In William Leavengood’s play, The Azure Sky In Oz, Amanda Ladd performs the roles of two women, visual artist Michelle Feulner-Castro, and Special Ed teacher Mary Tilford. They are connected by Michelle’s son, Trevor, who we find out was a student in one of Mary’s classes. As Michelle, Ladd is extremely convincing, as an artist and mother of two, that when she returns to the stage for Act II, it’s hard to believe it’s the same actor playing Mary Tilford.
In Act I, Michelle prepares for the opening of her art show. One of her sons, Trevor, who has autism, has smeared yellow paint on a piece she has already sold. Michelle tells her story as she tries to fix it. She works at a table with scissors and paper. Michelle’s visual art and storytelling are sometimes serious, sometimes playful – she paints what she knows and tells it like it is. When Michelle imitates her son, it is to provide the audience with a glimpse into her life. She reproduces his speech pattern and movements earnestly, never deriding or judging. In fact, she stops halfway through the story because she “doesn’t want (the audience) to hate Trevor.”
In Act II, special ed teacher Mary Tilford prepares her classroom for the new school year and talks about the plays she and her students put on. Mary talks about her students with great love, respect and compassion.
Ladd thoroughly embodies these characters, giving them each different physical movements, accents and facial expressions. She skillfully represents the women’s triumphs and frustrations. The script by William Leavengood perfectly weaves vignettes about the children with their caregivers’ emotional reflections, and Ladd’s authentic delivery and loving treatment of the material make for an extremely enjoyable and absorbing performance.
"The Azure Sky in Oz"
Written and Directed by William Leavengood
Performed by Amanda Ladd
October 26, 2022
The 13th United Solo Festival
October 4- November 20, 2022
410 West 42nd (btw 9th and 10th Avenue)
STEPHANIE EAGAN is a professional writer based in NJ. A fan of every type of live performance imaginable, from taiko drumming to political performance art, she travels the tri-state area and beyond in search of music, art, theater, and excellent coffee.