By Amanda Romeo
The John Cranford Adams Playhouse has served as a cultural center to Hofstra University as well as its surrounding community since it was created in 1958. The playhouse is not Hofstra’s only theater, and the venue has often been rented out by numerous local, national and international companies of the arts hosting countless productions, conferences, lectures and school events over the years.
The building was originally designed by Aymar Embury. Completed in 1958, it was not
officially named after Hofstra’s second president, John Cranford Adams, until 1974.
Adams served as president of Hofstra from 1944 to 1964. He was a renowned Shakespeare scholar and was responsible for initiating the drama department’s annual Shakespeare Festival in 1958 when the playhouse opened.
President Adams built a four-fifths scale model of the Globe Stage in replication of Shakespeare’s original Globe Theater in London. The Adams Playhouse was built with specific instructions to accommodate this set piece and has been subsequently used in many of the Shakespeare Festivals held at Hofstra.
Currently, the proscenium-style theater is undergoing full renovation. The planning process to rebuild began in April of 2015 and were finalized by 2016. Construction began this past summer, mainly focusing on the exterior façade. Renovations are estimated to span over a seven-month period which began in May 2017 and is expected to end sometime in December.
A large chunk of the money for the construction came from a donation made by the Sosnoff Foundation. Co-founders of the philanthropic foundation, Martin and Toni Sosnoff, are dedicated advocates of the arts. Toni Sosnoff is a Hofstra alumna who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in drama in 1963.
The Sosnoffs dedicated a generous $1.5 million grant to the university under the condition that Hofstra at least match the amount. Hofstra put up an additional $2.8 million towards the plans to rebuild. Renovations include new carpets, better acoustics, a new lighting system and a full newly renovated lobby. Gone are the large Roman columns in favor of a more modern glass façade. The front steps were also altered to be more accommodating for handicapped personnel.
The next show scheduled to appear at the Adams Playhouse is “Hair,” debuting Oct. 27, put on by the Department of Drama and Dance.