Monday, April 20, 2020

Brandon and Virginia Pilgrim Ramey Present "Cindy's Big Day" — as in "Cinderella"

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 5:30 PM

click to enlarge Virginia Pilgrim Ramey in "Cindy's Big Day"
  • Virginia Pilgrim Ramey in "Cindy's Big Day"

Brandon Ramey and his wife, Virginia Pilgrim Ramey, were set to star as Cinderella and Prince Charming in the Ballet Memphis production of the Sergei Prokofiev ballet, Cinderella, which was to be held April 18th and 19th at the Orpheum.

The coronavirus put a stop to that.

But you still can see Virginia as Cinderella in the couple’s latest Facebook video, Cindy’s Big Day, which was directed by Brandon, who collaborated with Virginia.

“Cindy,” of course, is Cinderella.

“This one is special because it would have been our big Cinderella weekend,” Virginia says. “And so it’s kind of a fun look at the idea of Cinderella or somebody getting ready for something big and then it’s canceled. And what you end up doing with your time.”

“The plot is that Cindy is a ballerina who is preparing for her big performance as Cinderella in the Ballet Memphis production of Cinderella,” Brandon says. “She was up. She’s so excited. She’s  getting ready for her day. Puts on her makeup, picks out pointe shoes, picks up her broom, and is headed toward the theater. And, immediately, comes face to face with a big poster of the show with the word ‘Cancelled’ written right across the front of it.”

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The music stops. Everything goes silent. “It seems like the whole world stops spinning. She’s dejected. Totally depressed. And, just as we would imagine Cinderella doing if her ball is canceled, she starts cleaning with her broom. And cleaning turns into dancing. The cleaning leads to picking various activities around the house. All of a sudden she’s turned into a carpenter and she’s making this very nice silver chest. And then she grabs her saw and, the next thing, she’s exposing brick in the kitchen. It’s a project we’ve actually been working on, so she’s actually going at it.

“And then she’s all over the house finding ways to fill her time now that her show’s been canceled. The last scene is her flipping through the pages of the calendar and putting a new show date in the future when the show will go on. And she falls asleep with a big smile on her face. Dreaming about a new day and a new show.”

Virginia doesn’t dance in her Ballet Memphis Cinderella costume, Brandon says. “We don’t have the costumes. They belong to our wonderful costume department. In the video, we tried to emulate the idea of what the costume would look like. What a ballerina would look like doing all these chores.”

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So, she wears “a leotard and a long skirt and pink tights and her shiny pointe shoes.”

His wife gives a solo performance in this video, Brandon says. “I am not in this one at all. And this one doesn’t have any choreography. She dances a little bit with the broom and is running with it. I said, ‘I’m going to videotape you dancing with a broom.’ Being the effusive creator she is, everything she did is gold.”

The Rameys began rehearsing for the Ballet Memphis production of Cinderella last February, Virginia says. “We closed our Winter Mix in mid-February. And soon after that, we started Cinderella rehearsals.”

Brandon remembered when they were told the ballet was canceled. “Steven McMahon, the artistic director, brought the whole company together and had a heart-to-heart with us and just explained how drastic the measures to keep everyone safe were going to have to be. And I think he was pretty early in the curve in this. He had the foresight to realize where this whole situation was headed. We were in the studio. We were all in a circle sitting on the ground. But even in that safe environment, it felt like the floor had dropped out from underneath us.”

This would have been the second time the Rameys would have appeared in a Ballet Memphis production of Cinderella. They appeared in the ballet in 2016.

It’s not an easy role, Brandon says. “It is just entirely exhausting. We started working on it maybe two months ago. And some of that was just to figure out the choreography, the steps. But, also, it’s training to get the stamina just to get through that three-act ballet.”

The role is “extremely difficult for the woman,” Virginia says. “She starts the ballet and she is barely off stage at all except maybe at the beginning of the ball before she arrives. So, it’s one of the more demanding roles I’ve ever done. For Brandon, Cinderella’s feet don’t touch the floor when she’s dancing with him. He has to hold her up the whole time.”

The Rameys continue to practice their craft at home. Ballet Memphis recently dropped off “big patches of Marley, the vinyl flooring we use” at their home, Brandon says. “It’s the right consistency. Not too sticky. They dropped that off at all our houses and apartments so we could keep taking classes at home. At least twice a week we have Zoom meetings where one of the artists is leading us in a ballet class for an hour and 15 minutes.”

How did Virginia feel during the two days when the Ballet Memphis Cinderella was supposed to have taken place? “It’s hard to imagine,” she says. “We’ve been self-quarantined so long now that I just can’t believe we would have even been doing Cinderella at the Orpheum [last] weekend. It almost seems like another life right now.”

No Prokofiev music is heard in Cindy’s Big Day. The video opens with the Johann Strauss II waltz, “The Beautiful Blue Danube” and, after Cindy sees the “Cancelled” sign, Roy Orbison’s “Dreams” begins. The last scene ends with Orbison holding the word “dream” with his beautiful voice, Brandon says. “And you see Ginny tucking herself into bed at night. And dreaming of a future where we can gather to put on shows again.”

Click here to watch the video:

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