Brooks Appelbaum

Brooks Appelbaum

Brooks has been writing theater reviews since her undergraduate days, and her critical writings have appeared in The New Yorker, the New Haven Magazine, and elsewhere. She currently writes about theater for BWW and is on the board of the Connecticut Critics Circle.

Brooks’ theater criticism is informed by a lifetime of acting and directing experience. She and her husband, Dennis Bell, co-founded their own theater company, AppleBell Productions, and their 70-seat house sold out almost every performance. The business ran in the black for three years, until they left for the East Coast.

Brooks studied directing with Arno Selco, then head of the theatre department at Ithaca College, and with Resident Director Evan Yionoulis in Yale’s Summer Directing Program, among others. In academic, amateur, and professional settings, Brooks has directed over twenty plays by such writers as Sam Shepard, Horton Foote, Steven Dietz, A.R. Gurney, Lanford Wilson, and Thornton Wilder.

An actress for many years, Brooks’ favorite roles include Laura in The Glass Menagerie, Carol in Oleanna, Portia in The Merchant of Venice, and Nan/Lina in Richard Greenberg’s Three Days of Rain.

Brooks has taught acting in a wide range of settings, including adult classes, high school theater departments, and AppleBell Productions’ acting program. At Quinnipiac University, Brooks teaches in the English Department, Women and Gender Studies, First Year Seminar, and her own course, "From Script to Stage" in the Theatre Department. 

Brooks graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from Cornell.


 






MOST POPULAR ARTICLES


Review: HERE YOU COME AGAIN: HOW DOLLY SAVED MY LIFE IN TWELVE EASY SONGS at Terris Theatre (Goodspeed Musicals)
Review: HERE YOU COME AGAIN: HOW DOLLY SAVED MY LIFE IN TWELVE EASY SONGS at Terris Theatre (Goodspeed Musicals)
August 17, 2023

Here You Come Again: How Dolly Saved My Life in Twelve Easy Songs is a charming ode to Dolly Parton, playing through August 27th at Goodspeed Musicals’ Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT. Directed and choreographed by Gabriel Barre, the production is more than a jukebox piece, as it has a nicely delineated arc, though there is little suspense as to how the plot will turn out.

Review: CLYDE'S at TheaterWorks In Hartford
Review: CLYDE'S at TheaterWorks In Hartford
July 24, 2023

Lynn Nottage’s dark comedy, Clyde’s, is something of a departure for the author of Ruined and Sweat, among many other plays. Nottage is the only woman in history to win two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama, and though Clyde’s is not nearly in that league, the plot deals with people struggling to reclaim lives that at one time or another went terribly off course. TheaterWorks serves the play well, beginning with Mikael Burke’s strong direction and an ensemble of typically terrific actors and imaginative design artists.

Review: WEBSTER'S BITCH at Playhouse On Park
Review: WEBSTER'S BITCH at Playhouse On Park
June 13, 2023

What did our critic think of WEBSTER'S BITCH at Playhouse On Park?

Review: TROUBLE IN MIND at Hartford Stage
Review: TROUBLE IN MIND at Hartford Stage
June 13, 2023

What did our critic think of TROUBLE IN MIND at Hartford Stage?

Review: THE SECRET GARDEN at ACT Of Connecticut
Review: THE SECRET GARDEN at ACT Of Connecticut
June 7, 2023

What did our critic think of THE SECRET GARDEN at ACT Of Connecticut?

Review: THE WINTER'S TALE at Hartford Stage
Review: THE WINTER'S TALE at Hartford Stage
May 3, 2023

What did our critic think of THE WINTER'S TALE at Hartford Stage? The Winter's Tale, currently at Hartford Stage through May 7 and directed by Artistic Director Melia Bensussen, confronts an audience with a story difficult to believe from the start, whether or not one is a Shakespeare fan. Add to this Bensussen's vision, which includes problematic design elements and some unfortunate casting, and you have a version of the play that leaves us relatively unmoved. This is a shame, as The Winter's Tale is not often performed, and I was very eager to see it at this historically revered home for Shakespeare productions.

Review: THE ART OF BURNING at Hartford Stage
Review: THE ART OF BURNING at Hartford Stage
March 16, 2023

What did our critic think of THE ART OF BURNING at Hartford Stage? Kate Snodgrass' world premiere play, The Art of Burning, presented by Hartford Stage in association with Huntington Theater Company, is a disappointingly thin work, though the producing theaters are to be congratulated for supporting new scripts. The production itself, led by the sure hand of Hartford Stage Artistic Director Melia Bensussen, is well cast and fascinating to look at: Luciana Stecconi's scenic design creates an atmosphere of alienation, leaving the characters looking uneasy, often lost, and like chess pieces trying to defend their positions on a brutally cold board. However, the set is more original than the plot, which attempts to put a feminist spin on old themes: marriage is difficult; raising a child is even more difficult; affairs lead to thorny divorce settlements; and children get caught in the middle.

Review: The Tony Award-Winning Musical HADESTOWN Stuns At The Bushnell
Review: The Tony Award-Winning Musical HADESTOWN Stuns At The Bushnell
March 10, 2023

The national tour of the much-lauded Hadestown is playing at the Bushnell in Hartford through March 12, and this production is nothing short of stunning.

Review: QUEEN OF BASEL at TheaterWorks In Hartford
Review: Paula Vogel's INDECENT At Playhouse On Park
Review: Paula Vogel's INDECENT At Playhouse On Park
February 17, 2023

Paula Vogel's Indecent, now running at Hartford's Playhouse on Park through February 26, dramatizes the production history of a much older play, The God of Vengeance, written in 1907 by Sholem Asch.

Review: ESPEJOS/CLEAN at Hartford Stage
Review: ESPEJOS/CLEAN at Hartford Stage
February 5, 2023

Hartford Stage is presenting a remarkable and courageous New England premiere: Christine Quintana's bilingual play, Espejos/Clean. The play gives us two very different women: Adriana, from Chetumal, Mexico, who speaks Spanish and a bit of English, and Sarah, from Vancouver, who speaks only English.

Review: WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? at Yale Repertory Theatre
Review: WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? at Yale Repertory Theatre
October 25, 2022

What did our critic think of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? at Yale Repertory Theatre? James Bundy, Artistic Director of Yale Repertory Theatre and Dean of Yale School of Drama, often helms the first production of a season, and that production is often a classic play: Tennessee Williams' A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE; Tom Stoppard's ARCADIA; Samuel Beckett's HAPPY DAYS; and Edward Albee's A DELICATE BALANCE, to name a few. This season, he directs what many consider to be Albee's masterpiece, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, and anyone who sees this production is fortunate indeed.

Review: FUN HOME at TheaterWorks Hartford
Review: FUN HOME at TheaterWorks Hartford
October 19, 2022

What did our critic think of FUN HOME at TheaterWorks Hartford? The musical FUN HOME, based on Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir ('a family tragicomic') won five Tony Awards in 2015, including Best Musical. And Jeanine Tesori (music) and Lisa Kron (book and lyrics) made history by being the first female duo to win a Tony. Oh, and by the way, the musical was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Review: SUNSET BOULEVARD at Music Theatre of Connecticut
Review: SUNSET BOULEVARD at Music Theatre of Connecticut
September 25, 2022

Director Kevin Connors (also the Artistic Director of MTC) has worked wonders adapting big Broadway shows to fit, literally and artistically, into his intimate theatre space, which has the audience on three sides of a postage stamp stage. His GYPSY was superb, as he understood that this is essentially a mother-daughter drama; and he created what would seem the impossible in such a space with a beautiful production of RAGTIME. He has done the same with others.

BWW Review: QUEEN at Long Wharf Theatre
BWW Review: QUEEN at Long Wharf Theatre
May 31, 2022

QUEEN, by Madhuri Shekar and playing at Long Wharf Theatre through June 5th, is a timely investigation of ideas that centers on women in STEM (who are underrepresented onstage as in life). Unfortunately, cryptic writing and a misguided set design lessen the impact that the production might have achieved. Still, QUEEN's premise and plot are intriguing.

BWW Review: CHOIR BOY at Yale Repertory Theatre
BWW Review: CHOIR BOY at Yale Repertory Theatre
April 11, 2022

Tarell Alvin McCraney's CHOIR BOY, playing at Yale Repertory Theatre through April 23, is directed by the prodigiously talented Christopher D. Betts; Betts has created a terrific production, for the most part, with outstanding acting, singing, and scenic, lighting, and costume design. The play itself has some predictable elements, but for the most part Betts' interpretation makes for a thought-provoking and moving experience.

BWW Review: DREAM HOU$E at Long Wharf Theatre
BWW Review: THIS BITTER EARTH at TheaterWorks Hartford
BWW Review: THIS BITTER EARTH at TheaterWorks Hartford
March 1, 2022

This Bitter Earth, playing at TheaterWorks in Hartford through March 20, is a moving and poetic work that explores the love between two men, Jesse and Neil, and their central conflict.

BWW Review: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE at CONNECTICUT REPERTORY THEATRE
BWW Review: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE at CONNECTICUT REPERTORY THEATRE
December 9, 2019

Some may doubt that a stage adaptation of the terrifically inventive, romantic, and witty 1998 film, 'Shakespeare in Love,' could possibly succeed. However, Connecticut Repertory Theatre's current production, expertly directed by Vincent Tycer and acted by a vibrant, masterful cast, proves that setting this story--which is about theater, after all--in an actual theater, creates a magic all its own. This production is, without a doubt, 'a hit! a palpable hit!'






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