by Mike Gomborone
"Mike! You have so many stories! You should write them down."
"Ah, yes," I thought, "I missed the ship once, Mom came to visit me, I've hit a third of the world's countries...I could write a book."
Before becoming a full-time supernumerary at the Metropolitan Opera, I sailed for three years all over the world as a singer/dancer on cruise ships. I worked for several years based in New York as a musical theater actor, and one of my gigs happened to be as a part-time supernumerary while I was in-between musical theater jobs. Finally, after a whole year under contract at sea, I had had enough time afloat and longed for some solid ground again under my feet. Plus, the Met Opera welcomed me back after the year away, and I was longing for something more permanent in my life.
By luck, I landed my job as a unionized member of the Metropolitan Opera, but after a while, I started to long again for my carefree, adventurous days at sea. But how could I give up my amazing job at the Met? I get to wear fantastic costumes! I listen to the best singers and musicians in the world on a daily basis! I have DENTAL coverage! These are the things you just don't appreciate as an eager 20-something, freshly-graduated-out-of-college lad. My next best option was to go back and relive all of my photos, videos, and journal entries from my numerous ship days. I realized I had plenty of stories (75 chapters' worth, in fact!), and I figured I could put them all into a book!
Well, that's a really cute idea until you realize just how much work goes into something like this. Who's going to help me edit this monster? How do I make it interesting enough for people to want to read? And how am I going to sell this thing, my baby??
The project took close to an entire decade to pull off and I'm still learning as I go, but my Met Opera family has been very supportive, as well as my many other generous friends. I had several people read my manuscript and offer their suggestions over the years, and one friend encouraged me to add maps to my chapters so that my readers know where they are in the world for those few pages! That added so much to my book because I ended up drawing those in cartoon form, adding a bit more humor into the mix. Then, I discovered the world of self-publishing. Before I knew it, I held all of my tales in one neat little bound book.
Who knew that I would end up as an actor in an opera company? Who knew that I'd be able to relive my wonderful years on ships in book form? Who knew that I would get so much joy from the support of friends, and the experience of learning a new craft? My book and I have just begun our adventure together (I was even reviewed in the local paper back home!), and I think we are in for a fun ride.
Mike Gomborone is originally from Rochester, NY and got a BFA in Musical Theater from Syracuse University before moving to New York City. Besides his work entertaining on ships, he toured around the country for a year in the musical GREASE and did a lot of regional and summer stock contracts before settling permanently at the Metropolitan Opera as a full-time supernumerary in 2006.
If you would like to order Mike's book, SINGING MY WAY AROUND THE WORLD: An Entertainer's Life at Sea, click here. It is also available as an e-book and audiobook.