Frank Rich will mix Entertainment and Politics on stage with WAMC’s Joe Donahue

Frank Rich. He’s coming to the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on Sunday, October 9 at 2pm. When the leaf peepers start to arrive they will be snapping up the remaining tickets, so think about getting your seats early. It’s not to be missed. Here’s why.

If you know who he is, Rich is either the god of truth to you, or the enemy. He is, journalistically speaking, one of America’s great eminences. From 1994 when he began writing his op-ed columns in the New York Times to this past March when he wrote his last (before going over to New York Magazine), you could always count on him to see through the murky waters of half truths to reveal what was actually going on in Washington.

“The answer is not complicated,” Rich once wrote. “When people in power get away with telling bigger and bigger lies, they naturally think they can keep getting away with it.” But he admits that “It is kind of tedious after a while, to parse politicians doing the same thing over and over again. The facts change from week to week, but the sort of masquerade doesn’t.”

We are going to get a chance to hear that side of him soon as WAMC’s Joe Donahue probes his thoughts, up close and personal.

Before he became America’s voice of reason, Rich was the chief theatre critic for the New York Times (1980-1993). In short order it became clear that he loved theatre, good theatre, but had little patience for mediocrity. He was so honest and unsparing in his opinions of expensive but half-baked works that he could close a Broadway show with just a few hundred words.

He quickly became known as “The Butcher of Broadway” for the devastation his opinions could cause.

Even so, he has a passion for the crazy and complicated business of putting on live stage shows in the age of television and the internet. “I’m always struck by the kids who turn up in New York and LA, and places in between. Chicago. Wanting to do theater, wanting to do independent film. Wanting to break into television or radio,” he once said.

Frank Rich in Williamstown

In January 2010 he and his pal Steven Sondheim (who graduated Williams College in 1950), filled the large Chapin Hall on the Williamstown campus for a give and take on theatre. It was snowy. It was historic, with one of the largest turnouts I have ever seen – mobbed, packed with hundreds of late arriving people being sent to other halls to watch the exchange on television monitors. Before it began, students happily mingled with the white hairs, the campus and town had the giddy buzz and excitement of a rock concert. Somehow everyone knew it was going to be a night to remember.

Rich's book about Bush details how pols operate, the biggest expose since Edward Bernays PR bible "Propaganda."

Now that same Frank Rich, the prolific and influential writer who’s subject matter ranges from theatre to politics, will be speaking at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on Sunday, October 9 at 2pm. This event is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. James W. Giddens and will be facilitated by WAMC’s Joe Donahue.

Some might worry that Donahue, a master interviewer in his own right – with a comfortable, laid-back style – might be facing down a titan, but the thing is that with Rich, you just need to wind him up, give him a subject, and let him rip into it. And Donahue has interviewed just about every star who has ever passed through the Berkshires.

So he and Rich will easily focus on what the audience wants. You may think that Keith Olbermann or Glenn Beck have large rolodexes, but Frank Rich has all those names, plus half of Washington’s other movers and shakers. And they all talk to him. They’re afraid not to.

Rich sees the whole Washington scene as a huge stage show where all the pols are acting out roles, while the words in their mouth are put there by the manipulative writers and spin doctors.

A VIP Brunch Offered

This event is so important, don’t be surprised if Rachel Maddow shows up from the Pioneer Valley to see what Rich is up to, and other news breakers and opinionators are spotted among the hoi polloi. The VIP brunch before the show will be a hot ticket.

Speaking of which that top VIP ticket is $100, with other seats priced at A: $65, B: $45 and C: $15. The VIP tickets include preferred seating and that pre-show brunch with Frank Rich.

All tickets may be purchased in person at the Colonial Ticket Office at 111 South Street or by calling (413) 997-4444 or online at The Ticket Office is open Monday-Friday 10am–5pm, Saturdays 10am–2pm or on any performance day from 10am until intermission.

An intimate conversation with one of the pre-eminent commentators in the world, this afternoon with Frank Rich, facilitated by WAMC’s Joe Donahue, is guaranteed to stimulate and delight.

“From his years as head drama critic and featured columnist for the New York Times to his current work with New York Magazine, Frank Rich has helped shape our view of arts, politics and world we share.” – Kate Maguire, Artistic Director/CEO of Berkshire Theatre Group

Columbus Day weekend will be different this year as Broadway gears up for another season and America prepares up for yet another Presidential election. At this point we all have opinions on these matters, and what is more fun than to compare what we know with the insights of a bestselling author, award-winning commentator and singular voice who speaks truth to power every day.

Frank Rich

After having been named the chief theatre critic of The New York Times, Mr. Rich has been known as one of the most influential theatre critics. Beginning his theatrical criticism career early, Rich was known for being one of the first writers to predict the success of Follies by Stephen Sondheim during his time as an undergraduate. After such a spectacular beginning to his reviewing career, Rich spent many years reviewing theatre until eventually Hot Seat: Theater Criticism for The New York Times was published, which compiled a collection of his theatre reviews. Rich’s love of criticism came from an undeniable love of theatre and the possession of an incredibly analytical mind.

“The lowest form of criticism—actually worthless, in my opinion—is, ‘I give this an A or an F, or I give this four stars. What matters is making the case for why Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George is a visionary show…The easy part is having the opinion. The fun part is telling the story of how you got there.” – Frank Rich

Now an essayist for New York Magazine, writing monthly on politics and culture, he also serves as an editor-at-large, editing a special monthly section anchored by his essay. He is also a commentator at, engaging in regular dialogues on the news of the week.

Rich continues to focus on the connection between culture and the news. In 1999 he was the first writer for the New York Times to have a regular double-length column in the Op-Ed section. Rich’s strong opinions on politics and culture have been a delight for readers across the country.

Frank Rich's Ghost Light recounts how he came to love theatre.

After years of discouraging wars and disheartening terrorist attacks, Rich, still always strives to express the truth in his writing, “I have to hope that given the price we’ve paid in Iraq, as a society we’re going to learn something from this. With the world a more dangerous place than ever, and after the wreckage of the Bush years, America has got to get its act together and address these problems. If we can’t agree on what the facts are, then we have no hope. We need to distinguish between facts and showmanship, facts and propaganda.”

Before the New York Times, Mr. Rich was a critic of film and television for Time Magazine and the New York Post. In addition to working for the news world, Frank Rich has also dabbled in literature. Ghost Light, his childhood memoir, was published in 2000 and recently the film rights to the story were bought by Storyline Entertainment.

In Ghost Light Rich explores his childhood in Washington DC, the influence that his parents’ divorce had on him and the refuge that theatre provided. Later he wrote The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina which chronicled his views on the Bush administration and the misinformation that was given to the American Public.

The Intellectually Curious Berkshires

The master of mixing entertainment and politics, October 9 is a rare chance for those of us in the Berkshires to see this literary truth teller as he follows in the footsteps of those other great American observers Will Rogers and Mark Twain. Here is someone who not only tells it like it is, face to face, but does so truthfully. Best of all, he will do it from from the stage of our own Colonial Theatre, engaging some of the most intellectually curious people in rural America today….those of us who make our homes in the Berkshires. And our friends.

One thought on “Frank Rich will mix Entertainment and Politics on stage with WAMC’s Joe Donahue

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