Way Off Broadway a Bravo! Canada reality tv series follows the ups and downs of community theatre, as 21 amateur actors go through the grueling process of putting on a musical production of The Wizard of Oz.
In this Friday’s episode, director Sarina Condello enlists her retired pro-wrestler father and 20-year-old son and nephew to help her out on her musical theatre project. Sarina is a larger than life woman, but in this episode she goes through the familiar stress of dealing with family and it all ends with a slap in the face!
In two days, I watched the 5 previous episodes and Episode 6: The Wrestling Match, only to find a reality show that truly speaks about life and the endless possibilities for everyone through creativity, music, and dance. It was my kind of show!
Today, I had the privilege of speaking with Sarina Condello, the Director on Way off Broadway. Due to numerous time shifts and my extensive research on Sarina, I had the assumption that this woman was larger life. I felt slightly pressured that I should be effective and efficient when interviewing her….and not miss a beat. Boy, was I right.
I hope that I articulated everything that she said to me as speaking with a force to be reckoned with….well is a force to be reckoned with.
Obviously with our time constraints over the past few days, I acknowledge that you are extremely busy. As well, your website and on-screen personality proves that you are a non-stop individual. What’s a typical day for Sarina Condello?
Condello: One thing that drives me is the joy and lightness of being and the community work that I do. My internal engine, in seeing individuals transform and finding their authentic voices, continually motivates me to keep going.
I get up between 6 and 6:30 and I have a reflective meditative moment that puts me in a place to envision my day and create best day possible. I answer all of my emails early in the morning and late in the evening as this gives the impression that I never sleep. I then teach two dance classes in my home. I teach a world dance class. In the afternoon, I continue with emails and communication to keep my current projects and shows going strong.
In the late afternoon, I work in schools. I am an art educator who works with lots of children in Toronto. I then have rehearsal until 11 o’clock at night for adult casts or dance groups. I coach them to show up in a way that they have confidence and a deep understanding of their dances.
In the summer, usually I am in Africa working 6-7 days a week working in dusty fields with the most amazing African professionals and children.
On the weekend, it’s family time. My family comes first and second to that is the constant effort to create vital, creative communities with a purpose.
While I was watching Way Off Broadway, even though you’re working with adults, you are the epitome of the child spirit. Do you feel that if we expose our child spirit a little more frequently we can accomplish the impossible?
Condello: I think what we refer to as the child spirit often disappears between the ages of 9-11 in order to create a feeling of acceptance within social peer groups. In fact, I have seen little boys being pulled out of dance at the age of 6 due to the fear of creating the attributes of being gay. Children are naturally full of wonder and they are curious. They are spontaneous and resilient.
That kind of spontaneity in adults scares people. That ability to move in the moment scares them and almost feels dangerous. It simply doesn’t fit in a system that is orderly and full of routine. This experience on Way Off Broadway is fascinating with these amateurs being that they have never tapped into their playful and creative spirit.
During this episode, you speak candidly about the distance that you had with your father during your childhood. You explained that he worked very hard as a professional wrestler. Do you feel that his dedication to his profession has driven you in yours?
Condello: In a way, but it’s really interesting but I’m almost following in his footsteps. It’s almost like his energy and focus has informed me in a more subconscious way. His unavailability and his lack of presence also inspired me to be as present as I possibly could be with my own children. His absence has pushed me in more ways than one. I’m trying to contribute in my own children lives.
Your father in Episode Six appears to be proud that he’s collaborating with you. He is also proud of his past. Do you think you’ve inspired something inside of him to work more closely with you or is that already happening?
Condello: This was a one time deal. This was a very special and unique moment. I am more emotional and reflective about the experience now than when it happened.
You and your Dad appear to have a very dynamic loving relationship. Do you believe that it’s due to the passion of entertaining others?
Condello: After my dad turned about 55, he started to change dramatically. He became more honouring, more sensitive, and more in tune with the family. He was in his late 30’s when I left the home, so he was very young when he had me and was growing up the same time I was.
(I thought of my Dad, yes this is so true)
What performer was the initial weakest link who turned into a shining success in your eyes?
Condello: I don’t think I can answer that without giving intricate parts of the show away. I think you’re going to be surprised to see the people who were challenged in the end, and those who rose to the occasion. Obviously, it was a strenuous schedule for them as they were living their day-to-day lives along with the show.
In actual fact, every one of them rose to the occasion and they ALL were fantastic during the final performance. However, some of them were stronger closer to show time, while others were weaker.
Quinton and your nephew are so cute. I have teenagers and I can so relate. How much confidence did you have in them initially to conquer the task of getting the sets ready?
Condello: I first I thought to myself that they would rise to the challenge and that they can do this. It will be a great journey for them. However, about halfway through I kind of lost my confidence. You’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Would you consider doing Way Off Broadway again?
Condello: It would be an absolute pleasure and privilege to this again. Episode 6 is probably the most humorous and endearing episode because it has to do with something we are all familiar with; family. No matter what the differences we have had in the past, we love that parent anyway. When we grow up we are quick to realize that our parents had a hard go too just as most people do.
Count me in next time Sarina! Thanks for giving me a few minutes of your busy day!
Way Off Broadway Episode 6 Premiere’s Friday Night on Bravo! Canada