Sharon Spielgel Wagner Sets SA TV Screens Alight
Sharon Spielgel Wagner in Bedford Wives
Each Thursday evening since the end of August, the charasmatic actress Sharon Spiegel Wagner has had South Africans glued to their television sets watching BEDFORD WIVES on SABC 3, as the local comedy-drama unfolds with her character, Despina Giannopolous, taking centre stage.
Set in the lavish but seedy Johannesburg east suburb of Bedfordview, Bedford Wives follows the lives of four women and a community of Bedfordview criminals who, on the surface, live pristine and perfect lives but, behind closed doors, have skeletons in their closets and secrets aplenty.
When her restaurateur husband, Marco Giannopoulos, is found dead under a side of lamb and dripping in gourmet olive oil, Bedfordview housewife and Mrs South Africa entrant, Despina, vows to keep the family businesses going – but then learns the real family business is crime…
Nothing is at it seems…
Filled with drama and intrigue, this crime dark comedy has Sharon Spiegel Wagner leading an all-star cast that includes the likes of Annabel Linder, Christopher Jaftha, Gabriella Cirillo, Sibulele Gcilitshana, Zane Meas, Jonathan Taylor, Shaeleen Tobin, Russel Savadier, Paige Bonnin to name but a few.
Watch a behind-the-scenes video of BEDFORD WIVES here:
Says Sharon; “Playing Despina has been a dream come true. I was initially nervous to step into her shoes as her character carries the centre-most plot. I was also surrounded by formidable talents in the TV world and I had mainly focused my career on theatre previously, so I initially felt intimidated. But I can honestly say that the people I worked with could not have been a better cast and crew.”
She continues; “Everyday had its challenges, but the crew and camera men were patient and kind; the cast was open, honest and performed their parts with such grace; my producers fully supported my duties as a mother and never made me feel apologetic for worrying about my kids (4 month old baby and a 4 year old toddler); I really won the lotto with this project. Things were aligned fortuitously for me and I feel incredibly lucky. My co-stars made every scene so easy to play. Performing opposite these talents has been a dream come true.”
This 30-something multi-Naledi-nominated performer is also no stranger to local theatre audiences being one of SA’s Industry elite triple-threat actors as well.
Career accolades highlight her versatility as a performer – and as a multi-tasker - and includes productions such as I’m playing your song – The Marvin Hamlisch Story; The Rocky Horror Show; From the Mouths of Babes; Love, Loss and What I Wore; Aspects of Love; Grease; Macbeth; Hairspray; Let There Be Rock… and the list goes on and on…
Sharon expresses her thoughts about musical theatre in her own words;
“Stage is where I feel most at home. I studied drama at Wits and my focus was live performance which is very different to television. Just the mere size of the frame of TV versus the size of a stage is a clue to how different these mediums of acting and performance are. My home is in musical theatre and I’ve been lucky enough to play a young girl yearning for love (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects Of Love); a ditzy but super sweet American teen (Frenchie in Grease) and a conservative woman on the brink of exploring her sexual urges in the Rocky Horror Show (Janet)
But the biggest privilege recently was playing opposite Jonathan Roxmouth. He wrote a musical story about Marvin Hamlisch. And in that two hander I got to portray 11 different women of differing ages and cultural backgrounds. I played almost every kind of girl from a young annoying sister, all the way to Carly Simon, Cher, Barbara Streisand; a devoted and loving wife and an overbearing Jewish mother. I had 10 lightning speed changes (entire outfits including wigs). This was by far the most challenging and rewarding piece of theatre to date.
The most personal piece was the piece I co-wrote with two other artists. The three of us sang and told stories of our youth. This was so difficult for me. Telling someone else’s story is a real treat. Telling my own story was excruciating. I felt afraid every night. You are exposed as it is on stage but when it’s your truth, it’s very revealing. Some artists find this cathartic but for me it was a challenge. One that despite the inner conflict was ultimately very fulfilling. Telling my own story and opening up was a vital part of my growth as an artist.
A physical challenge I had to endure on stage was being pregnant and performing. For obvious reasons it wasn’t very comfortable having a tiny human kick you while you are singing or telling a story. It was tough to concentrate with the physical demands of pregnancy and the physical demands of performance. But both my babies got to hear mommy sing whilst in my tummy so their stage debut was in utero!
What pulls me to theatre is it’s immediate and intimate relationship to its audience. If you are lucky enough to have an impact, you hear it and feel it immediately. The adrenaline of the moment is priceless.”
But for this moment in time, Sharon Spiegel Wagner is thrilled to be transported into millions of South Africans’ living rooms weekly, playing the resourceful Despina in BEDFORD WIVES for the next six more weeks….
On her character, Despina in Bedford Wives, Sharon had this to say:
“Dee is gorgeous. I'm fully invested in her story. She is vulnerable and determined. She is ferocious and strong. Everyone underestimates her which makes her the ideal underdog and to be able to reveal her triumph against this set up is great fun. She gets to touch on every genre - the show is comical; has drama; action; elements of mystery; horror; its simply thrilling to watch.”
She continues; “I loved this TV role. The writing was progressive and thoughtful and the journey of the character was a delight to portray. It felt exhilarating to be on set. When that magic word “Action!” is heard, it’s like a firecracker being lit. That kick is so exciting.“
It’s glitz, glam, drama, tears, murder, lies and comedy all rolled into one and Sharon Spiegel Wagner has certainly got South Africans sitting up and taking notice!
Tune into BEDFORD WIVES every Thursday evening at 19h30 on SABC 3 (or DSTV Channel 193) to watch as all the secrets and lies unravel.
Follow Sharon Spiegel Wagner on Social Media:
Twitter : @sharonwags
Links of Sharon Spiegel Wagner as part of the acapella group “Honey”: