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Stumbling Toward Applause: Misadventures in Entertainment

Unusual brushes with celebrities like Michael Buble and Diana Krall, jungle animals on the loose, bar fights, pyrotechnics gone awry, technical glitches at award ceremonies, and a sweltering outdoor show for UN troops in war-torn Cambodia - these are a sampling of the stories that await within Stumbling Toward Applause. This inspiring special event book is the first to reveal real-life, backstage experiences within the relatively young industry of special events. With the consequences of human frailty and conversely human determination as the theme, it takes readers from hilarious live, onstage mishaps to the poignancy of an actor's untimely death. Under the surface lurk nuggets of wisdom and lessons about life, business, and relationships.

Testimonials for Stumbling Toward Applause

Rich Follett, Readers' Favourite
Stumbling Toward Applause: Misadventures in Entertainment is one part memoir, one part entertainment and one part education for those with an interest in Show Business... The cast of characters is as entertaining as any madcap Hollywood adventure - talented performing artists with every kind of personality quirk imaginable, difficult clients, escorts and potential johns who mistake ‘entertainment’ for something a bit more blue, yodelers, fortune tellers, Elvis impersonators, has-been magicians, chorus girls, celebrities (their names will amaze and delight ) and… oh … did I mention the wild animals? In addition to the interesting personalities populating these anecdotes, there is a veritable cavalcade of ‘technical difficulties’ to be dealt with. Mechanical failures; human error; unforeseen circumstances; all conspire to sabotage events. Matthews’s ingenious solutions and pro-active compromises with ruffled clients are inspired and have a lot to teach about how to do a difficult job and please people against impossible odds...
The pages of this entertaining narrative resound with charm, personality, and no small amount of writing skill. The "stumbling" of the title is a most apt designation for this marvelous roller-coaster ride through a unique and memorable career. Stumbling Toward Applause deserves a standing ovation.

Debra Purdy-Kong, Author - Casey Holland Mystery Series

How did a senior officer in the Canadian Air Force eventually become a special events organizer? Well, it began with passion and respect for the entertainment business. Stumbling Toward Applause is not a memoir, but a series of reflections that offers many life lessons. Some of the pieces are a collection of anecdotes under a chapter heading while longer stories are complete chapters in themselves. There are hilarious incidents about working with animals and heartbreaking stories dealing with tragedy.

Although author Doug Matthews' business was based in Vancouver, several events took place out of town. There are vivid descriptions of family life in a trailer one particularly hot, fly and mosquito-infested summer in Barkerville, BC. There's also a riveting account of an unsettling tour the performers took while in Cambodia to perform for the Canadian troops.

The book is not only entertaining and insightful, but well written. It will make you wish you were either in the business or had at least seen some of the shows. I wish there were even more reflections, but you know what they say in the biz ... always leave them wanting more.

Julie H. Ferguson, Author and Writing Coach

The author, Doug Matthews, has opened the backdrop on special events production with this collection of stories about his twenty years in the business. It races along with action, dangers, and emotional essays, all of which include a sub-text of lessons learned. He writes with spare humour and honesty about celebrities and unknown performers, as well as his own moments of success and embarrassment. Stumbling Toward Applause has an easy-to read style that allows the book to be devoured in one evening. I highly recommend this book for all those who love to go backstage.
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