Condellos team up in showbiz
KIRK PENTON - Winnipeg Sun
|Sarina and Tony Condello finally found a way to work together. (JONATHAN LEE/Handout)
When Sarina Condello was a little girl growing up in Winnipeg, all she wanted to do was wrestle.
That way, she could be with her dad, who went by the ring name of (Torpedo) Tony Condello and later became a well-known wrestling promoter.
“As a child he wasn’t around a lot,” Sarina said recently. “He was doing the wrestling circuit. So as a young girl, as a teenager, as a young adult, I fantasized and had a desire to actually be a wrestler. I wanted to do that, because in my heart I think I just wanted to be near him.”
Tony Condello, of course, was never going to let his daughter get into the ring, knowing how rough the sport could be.
“She always wanted to get into wrestling,” said Tony, who was born 70 years ago in Italy. “I says, ‘You know what? You’d be a hell of a wrestler, but no way you’re going to be a wrestler.’ It’s pretty tough. And I knew very well with her education — a master’s degree of this, a master’s degree of that — is a better way to make a living.”
It took a few decades, but father and daughter have finally worked on one project that brought together both of their passions. Sarina is the brains behind a new Bravo reality series called Way Off Broadway, which premieres Friday night.
The show features regular people between the ages of 19 and 65 who have never sang or danced in front of an audience. Over 13 episodes, under the guidance of Sarina, the cast members will overcome their fears or simply realize their dreams, culminating in a performance of The Wizard of Oz musical before 1,200 spectators.
If you’re wondering how wrestling relates to the Wizard of Oz, it is connected to the part of the show involving the Winkies characters, who were enslaved by the Wicked Witch of the West. It’s a fight scene, and Sarina knew the perfect person to come in and choreograph the fights.
“He was so real, and there was something beautiful having someone close to 70 working with them. There’s something so honest when seniors are working in the field,” said Sarina, who has years of performing arts experience and serves as the show’s director, dance and performance coach.
“It just brought me so much profound gratitude in my heart that I had this opportunity to work with my father, because it’s been a dream of mine since I was an eight-year-old sitting on the turnbuckles watching him direct and choreograph wrestling matches.”
Tony got a kick out of working with non-wrestlers, too.
“The crow took a beating,” he said with a laugh. “He was taking a licking.
“It was great. They were really happy with it. I brought my belt that I had, and everybody wanted to take shots with it.”
Tony’s episode is the sixth of 13, so it will likely air some time in mid-April. The rest of the show should be something to see as well.
“Some of the talent was quite amazing,” Sarina said. “It’s quite amazing when you give people permission to perform and you guide them, what comes out.
“Everyone has something to offer. It’s just that we don’t give ourselves permission.”
Tony Condello bio and story archive