The Wrong Side of the Room: A Life in Music Theater by Norman Mathews is one man’s tale of a harrowing journey to a fulfilling life in both music and theater. Norman Mathews was born in the wrong town, the wrong era, and with the wrong name. What’s a boy to do? He conjured up a more enticing, imaginary world to better navigate the perils of childhood. Dreams of a life in the theater and of passionate romance were stymied by lack of self-assurance. Psychological abuse by a priest led to absurdly comic psychotherapy over his sexuality. At age twenty, a failed suicide nearly shattered a promising future. From the ashes of this calamity rose a staggering resolve to build a meaningful life. Byzantine twists paved the way to a career as a magazine editor and eventually a life as a Broadway and movie dancer. During his performance years, he worked with Barbra Streisand, Dorothy Lamour, Gene Kelly and Michael Bennett. After an untimely injury, he reinvented himself as a pianist, composer, and playwright, for which he created award-winning works for top Broadway and concert-stage performers.


His passionate and inspirational autobiography is steeped in dark humor, hilarious celebrity gossip, and backstage intrigue. It is a rare book that can intimately describe a self-destructive trajectory, recount the grisly murder of a former roommate, provide an inside look at the embezzlement of a famed Broadway producer, detail an ugly never-reported rehearsal scene involving Michael Bennett, and give a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of new musicals and operas. Mathews brings his colorful Sicilian-American family, his triumphs and heartbreaks, and his mine-strewn path to fulfilling love vividly to life.


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