Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New York's Historic The Drama Book Shop Enters Its 100th Anniversary Year

[Originally posted in Broadway World.]

The historic Drama Book Shop, located just steps from the heart of Times Square, has been an important part of the New York theatrical community for 99 years. Now, with the arrival of 2017, the historic book shop begins its 100th Anniversary Year.

The Drama Book Shop, founded in 1917, has had various locations throughout New York City over the last century. Its current venue, 250 West 40th Street, has been the shop's home for over 25 years. For the last century, the shop has provided the theatre and film community with a treasure trove of playscripts, libretti, technique books, sheet music and more. Its staff– made of actors, writers and directors– has been helping customers find monologues and scenes on a daily basis since the shop's opening. In 2011, The Drama Book Shop received an Honorary Tony Award for excellence in Theatre. The award is proudly on display in the shop for all customers to see.
For decades, playwrights, performers and authors have celebrated book releases at the shop with readings and signings. Most notably, signings have included Joel Grey (Master of Ceremonies), Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (Hamilton: The Revolution), and Theresa Rebeck (I'm Glad About You). Authors expected to appear at the shop in its 100th Anniversary Year include Samuel D. Hunter (Friday, January 6, 2017), Harriet Walter (Monday, February 6, 2017), Robert O'Hara (Friday, February 10, 2017), and more.

A safe haven to many, students of theatre can often be found in the shop from open to close. Whether they are searching for the perfect audition piece, or just seeking a safe place to discover a new play, performers from around the world have come to call The Drama Book Shop "home". Among the shop's most notable customers is Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who workshopped his first musical In The Heights in the shop's Arthur Seelen Theatre (located on the basement level). Fans of the performer/composer often ask to see the theatre where Lin-Manuel Miranda first made his mark. Readers may recall that Miranda rallied the theatrical community to raise funds for the shop after a flood destroyed more than half of the inventory in early 2016. In addition to the Hamilton star, a bevy of Broadway's greatest stars gathered for a night of music at Feinstein's/54 Below to raise additional funds for the shop's recovery.

The historic shop has had several owners in its 100 year, most notably actor Arthur Seelen. Mr. Seelen, who was known to attend the theatre several times a month with his wife, Rozanne Seelen (the shop's current owner), was friendly with such industry people as actor Hal Holbrook and playwrights Robert Anderson and Michael Weller, who were no strangers to the shop. As an actor, the Brooklyn-born Mr. Seelen (originally Seelenfreund) made his New York debut as Sebastien DuBois in Deputy of Paris at the Henry Street Playhouse. He performed in a pre-Broadway tryout of The Circus of Dr. Lao in Chicago in 1958 and understudied George C. Scott (and went on a few times) in Broadway's The Wall in 1960. He also performed in many stock stagings, from western New York to New Hampshire, and on TV presentations in the 1940s and 1950s, once playing Dromio of Ephesus in a CBS production of "The Comedy of Errors(1948). He had been a member of the Screen Actors Guild and Actors' Equity Association.

The Drama Book Shop will have its official 100th Anniversary Celebration on Seelen's birthday, Sunday, October 1, 2017. It will be open to customers that day, and will celebrate with a marathon of performances in its theatre (including songs, readings, scenes, monologues and more) from customers, friends and celebrity guests.

The Drama Book Shop is located at 250 West 40th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues, and is open 7 days a week. Customers who are not located in New York City are able to order directly from the shop's website, or via telephone. For more information on the historic bookseller, visit www.dramabookshop.com.

No comments: