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.
Playwright, composer, and librettist Norman Mathews’s autobiography The Wrong Side of the Room: A Life in Music Theater will be published in October 26. 2018. Is newest play is Drone which is about the affect of our drone program on both the pilot and the victim. The play will have a reading, directed by Michele Pawk this fall. His one-person musical play about Dorothy Parker, You Might as Well Live, has been performed by Tony-Award-winner Michele Pawk and Broadway star Karen Mason. The play received a Vogelstein Foundation Playwriting Grant and was a finalist for the Stanley Drama Award and the Mill Mountain Playhouse Best Play Competition. The musical has appeared at Chicago’s Harris Theater of Music and Dance, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, and the New York Musical Theater Festival. La Lupa, a full-length opera for which he wrote the libretto and score, was recently featured at the Ft. Worth Opera’s showcase of new works. Mathews and lyricist Patty Seyburn have collaborated on a musical version of Lost Empires, J. B. Priestley’s novel about the English music hall. A starry demo CD of the show features Michele Pawk, John Dossett, Danny Gurwin, and Brynn O’Malley. The piece was given a concert reading at Shorter University, where Mathews was composer-in-residence. Rossetti Songs, a cycle set to poems by Christina Rossetti for voice, piano, flute and cello, was recorded by Navona Records, and released by Naxos Records. The piece was recently broadcast on Public Radio. Mathews’s art songs were featured, along with the works of John Kander, Charles Strouse, and Galt MacDermot at the Kennedy Center in a program of classical music written by theatre composers. Mathews has written for symphony orchestra, chorus, the concert stage, jazz performers, musical theater, and cabaret. His song cycle, Songs of the Poet, composed to Walt Whitman poetry, was premiered in Germany by Gregory Wiest, an American tenor with the Munich Opera. Wiest recorded the work for Capstone Records (CPS 8646). Mathews’ Sonnet No. 61 for chorus, piano, and oboe won the VocalEssence 2011 choral award. His cabaret works have been performed by Liz Callaway (Tony nominee), Debbie Gravitte (Tony Award), and Peter Samuel. Mathews began his career as a Broadway and film dancer-singer-actor. After a back injury, he returned to school and earned a B.A. Degree in music from Hunter College and an M.A. Degree in music from New York University. He has also been News Editor of Dance Magazine and Managing Editor of Sylvia Porter’s Personal Finance Magazine. His music is published by Graphite Publishing. https://normanmathewsauthor.com (for playwriting, books, and articles) www.normanmathewsauthor.com (for music and compositions)
Reviewed By Asher Syed for Readers’ FavoriteThe Wrong Side of the Room: A Life in Music Theater by Norman Mathews is an autobiography chronicling the author's life as he transitions from a confusing and often abusive childhood, born in a sleet of uncertainty (literally, as it turns out). Masked by imagination and written with a humor that most would not be able to apply to such situations, Mathews is able to harness this creativity and hitch it to his own ambitions as a rising star. When an injury threatens to derail an ascent that defies all odds, Mathews is forced to reinvent and reignite himself once more, and does so amid a whole host of personal and professional turmoil, scandal, and the kind of stories that are all the more shocking – and inspiring – because they are actually true.Norman Mathews delivers a riveting memoir with The Wrong Side of the Room that opens with a contentious genesis and powerfully surges through to its finale.
This is the ultimate tale of a man who is knocked down seven times and gets up eight, except in this case our tenacious narrator is struck to the ground far more than that. But he does continue to rise and appears to have carved out a genuine niche for himself until, “I woke up one morning with a strange pain in my back and running down my right leg. In a few days, it got much worse, and I began limping.” With the support of his partner Todd, he buys a Steinway, dives into formal education, and...well, at first that all implodes too. But Mathews is the consummate phoenix and, much like he displays in the writing of this book, skillfully maneuvers the trajectory of his life's own narrative into a story that we are fortunate enough to have shared in The Wrong Side of the Room.