“The Wrong Side of the Room” by Norman Matthews— To Be Himself

Matthews, Norman. “The Wrong Side of the Room: A Life in Music Theater”, Eburn Press , 2018. To Be Himself Amos Lassen In “The Wrong Side of the Room”, Norman Matthews tells us that he was born in the wrong town during the wrong era and with the wrong name. Therefore he was forced to conjure a more enticing, yet imaginary, world to better deal with the perils of childhood. In this imaginary world, he had self-assurance and dreams of romance and fame. He had not, like in the real world, been psychologically abused by a priest nor did he have to deal with psychotherapy over his sexuality. He did not attempt suicide. In the real world, he survived all of this and much more. His autobiography not only details his honesty and humor but shares it with us and we see  how Mathews resolved to build a meaningful life led him to the life of his dreams. He began as a magazine editor and eventually became a Broadway and film dancer he worked with Barbra Streisand, Gene Kelly, Dorothy Lamour, and Michael Bennett. His star seemed to be rising until an injury cut his career as a performer  short and forced him to look elsewhere. He reinvented himself as a pianist, composer, and playwright and “was able to create award-winning works for the concert stage, Tony-Award winners, and opera luminaries.” Now he has written his autobiography and it is filled with passion and inspiration as well as very dark humor, gossip, and backstage intrigue. It has a lot about musical theater but it also tells the story of goes so far as to tell about the grisly murder of a Broadway conductor, gives an inside look at the embezzlement of a famed Broadway producer, and shares a never-reported rehearsal argument involving a famous choreographer. We read of Matthew’s triumphs and heartbreaks, and his road to love and life.  We learn what it means to live a life in which one’s passion guides him. Matthews is a fine writer and he writes with wit, humor, openness and self-deprecation. He faced repeated challenges and setbacks but never gave up it paid off. This is the fascinating and inspiring true story of a man who struggled just to be himself and to find success in life and it is a delightful read.

Leave a Reply