Expect the unexpected with Marina Vrahnos of Plainsboro playing the dual roles of Mrs. Gorf and Miss Zarves, two teachers featured in “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” at Kelsey Theater Friday to Sunday, January 11 to 13. “Both roles are nasty,” says Vrahnos, who is acting at Kelsey for the first time.
In Louis Sachar’s novel, Wayside School is 30 stories high with only one classroom per floor. Mrs. Gorf, who turns students into apples when they give the wrong answer, has her classroom on the very top floor. When one of her students outsmarts her with the use of a mirror the teacher turns into an apple and is eaten.
“The theater has been a part of my life on and off since I was a little girl,” Vrahnos says. “My mother wanted me to go to acting school when I was four but I did not became involved with school and community theater groups until high school.”
Some of her favorite roles include Martha from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf,” Anne Berlin in “Anne of 1000 Days,” and Portia in both “Julius Caesar” and “The Merchant of Venice.”
“When I was growing up I was tall and had a deep voice and was always cast as a man,” Vrahnos says. When she was in her early 20s she portrayed Prince Charming in “Cinderella.”
Born and raised in England, she met her husband, Stavros, while traveling through Indonesia. “We fell in love and he invited me to his home for Christmas,” she says. “I intended to stay for 10 days but I stayed forever.” Married for 19 years, they live in a 1940s farmhouse near Walker Gordon Farm. Their son, Dimitri, 15, is a sophomore at North.
Stavros, formerly in the restaurant business, owns a business in Hightstown focusing on pre-paid phone cards. Marina is a yoga teacher and a model for art students at Mercer College. Also a massage therapist, she works both out of her home and makes house calls, and has built up her clientele during the past 16 years.
“Massage is now more available and accepted,” she says. “People used to think of it as a luxury but now it is more for well being.” (To schedule an appointment call 609-275-1998).
Vrahnos studies acting, works with short plays among Columbia University students, and reads unpublished one act plays at different venues in New York. “I really want to act and I am very passionate about it,” she says. More and more of my time is spent acting and I hope to get paid for it someday.”
Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Kelsey Theater, Mercer College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, 609-570-3333. www.kelseytheatre.net. $10; $8 children. Friday, January 11, through Sunday, January 13.