REVIEW: The Scarecrow (Theatre-Hikes)


Nebulous ‘Scarecrow’ comes to life in historic location



Theatre-Hikes - The Scarecrow 2

Theatre-Hikes presents
The Scarecrow
Written by Percy Mackaye
Directed by
Frank Farrell
at the
Pullman Factory, 11057 S. Cottage Grove (map)
through November 14  |  tickets: $10-$15  |  more info

Reviewed by Allegra Gallian

Theatre-Hikes takes a break from its normal outdoor theatre productions to bring the action (basically) indoors with Percy Mackaye’s The Scarecrow. Written in 1908, The Scarecrow is based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Feathertop”, but expands the tale and is not to be taken as a dramatization of the short story.

The setting for The Scarecrow is an abandoned warehouse in the Pullman Historic District. It’s got a cool, loft vibe with a bit of creepiness for added natural effect. The set itself resembles an old blacksmith’s barn with tools and equipment scattered about, and straw covers the floor. The only downside to the warehouse usage is that there’s a distinct echo, so when the actors speak loudly or yell it’s difficult to understand them.

Theatre-Hikes - The Scarecrow 1Set in seventeenth century Massachusetts, The Scarecrow opens on Goody Rickby (Joni Arredia) working in the blacksmith shop, creating a scarecrow for her cornfields. Arredia initially seems too over-the-top with her performance but as she eases into her character she becomes interesting with a depth that’s clear. You can see that she’s developed a backstory for her character because the emotions come out in her eyes. As Goody Rickby works, she converses with Dickon (Drew Patrick) who is also the devil. Patrick is entertaining and clever in his characterization with an eerie quality that stays with him throughout the production.

Dickon has taught Goody Rickby witchcraft after she has an affair with the town’s justice and he abandons her, causing their child to die due to lack of medical care. Justice Gilead Merton’s niece, Rachel (Athanasia Sawicz) is fascinated by witchcraft and purchases a “mirror of truth” from Rickby. Sawicz offers a somewhat lackluster performance and it’s hard to decipher what her intentions are for her character. She’s rather meek for someone who’s the niece of a prominent town figure.

After Rachel leaves, Rickby and Dickon devise a plan of revenge against Justice Merton. Together, they bring the scarecrow to life to be Rickby’s son and woo Rachel away from her current betrothed, Richard Talbot (Chris Yearwood). The scarecrow, whom they’ve named Lord Ravensbane (Bill Zimmerman), comes to life much like Pinocchio does in the fairy tale, finding his legs and voice to pass as a real man. Zimmerman brings a touchingly naïve charm to Lord Ravensbane, with an adopted stutter and sweet demeanor. He’s eager to please and ready to do what he’s told.

Theatre-Hikes - The Scarecrow 3With Dickon as his tutor, Lord Ravensbane enters the Merton home with every intention, he is told, of winning Rachel for himself. Judge Merton (Marty Couch) plays the justice well enough but seems a bit nervous. The justice is unhappy with his new houseguests, but when Dickon reveals himself as the devil to Merton, Merton realizes he must comply. Rachel develops a crush on Lord Ravensbane and he feels the same way. He becomes enamored of her and she becomes torn between him and Talbot. Although she is supposed to be wrought with emotion, Sawicz doesn’t emit much emotion through her body language and it often feels more like she’s reciting lines she’s memorized rather than that she’s embodied fully the character of Rachel.

Dickon has Merton throw a party in Lord Ravensbane’s honor and at this party, Zimmerman’s Ravensbane proves to be both charismatic and regal, as if her were a real lord. Zimmerman delivers stunning monologues that play to the emotions of his character and the audience. Patrick’s Dickon makes intentional and superb character choices, both with his words and his actions. He is his character through and through.

The Scarecrow proves to be in interesting production with some ups and downs, but it does offer some truly wonderful performances.

Rating: ★★½   

The Scarecrow plays through November 14 at the historic Pullman Factory, 11057 S. Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by emailing or call 773-293-1358.The Scarecrow - Theatre-Hikes


BIOS of Cast and Staff

PERCY MACKAYE (Playwright, 1875–1956) was an American dramatist and poet. He was born in New York City, New York. He studied at Harvard (1897), before returning to New York City (1900-4) to teach. He subsequently settled in Cornish, New Hampshire.He wrote the plays, The Canterbury Pilgrims in 1903, Sappho and Phaon in 1907, Jeanne D’Arc in 1907, The Scarecrow in 1908, Anti-Matrimony in 1910, and the poetry collection The Far Familar in 1937. In 1950, MacKaye published The Mystery of Hamlet King of Denmark, or What We Will, a series of four plays written as prequels to William Shakespeare‘s Hamlet. In the 1920s, MacKaye was poet in residence at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He was the son of actor Steele MacKaye and brother of philosopher James MacKaye and of conservationist Benton MacKaye. Percy MacKaye is considered to be the first poet of the Atomic Era because of his sonnet "The Atomic Law," which was published in the Christmas 1945 issue of The Churchman. In 1912 he published The Civic Theatre in Relation to the Redemption of Leisure; A Book of Suggestions. Here he presented a concept of Civic Theatre as "the conscious awakening of the people to self-government in its leisure". To this end he called for the active involvement of the public, not merely as spectators, professional staff not dominated by commercial considerations and the elimination of private profit by endowment and public support. This concept was influential on Platon Kerzhentsev and the Soviet Proletcult Theatre movement. (Taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)  ABOVE PHOTO: Percy MacKaye as Alwyn the poet in MacKaye’s play Sanctuary: A Bird Masque. Photographed in 1913 by Arnold Genthe.

FRANK FARRELL (Director) has directed Bright Star, Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Audition, Candida and Dear Brutus for the North Lakeside Players in Chicago.  He is the Artistic Director of the North Lakeside Players and Founder and Managing Director for Theatre-Hikes  for which he has directed The Snow Queen, Little Women, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Mountain Days-The John Muir Musical and Our Town.  He has also directed for Steppenwolf, Raven Theatre, Temporary Theatre, Shakespeare’s Herd and Free Shakespeare, the windy city’s first year round Shakespeare company, which he founded in 1981.  His play adaptations for Theatre-Hikes include Alice Through the Looking Glass, Hiking With Davy Crockett, The Snow Queen, Bambi: A Life in the Woods, Rascal, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He has appeared as an actor in many Chicago area theatres and in Theatre-Hikes’ productions ofInto the Woods, Tuck Everlasting, Rascal and Dracula.   He has taught acting and improvisation at Columbia College and at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s Clown College in Florida.


(Goody Rickby) is delighted to be working once again with Theatre-Hikes. She was last seen in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm as Mrs. Perkins. Joni is an artist, an author, and has recently obtained her teacher certification in Ashtanga Yoga. Joni enjoys every aspect of the arts and hopes to continue her journey on the stage.


MARTY COUCH (Justice Gilead Merton) is thrilled to be working on his first production with Theater-Hikes. Chicagoland credits include Jacob/Partipher in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Drake in Annie, The Big Bopper in Buddy…the Buddy Holly Story, Lt. Brannigan in Guys and Dolls, Richard Stanley in The Man Who Came To Dinner, The Lord Chamberlain in Rumplestilskin, John Hancock in 1776, Eddie Brock in Born Yesterday among many others. Film and Television credits include Early Edition (CBS), two yet to be titled independent films, spots on Fox Thing in the Morning and The WGN Morning Show and several TV commercials. Marty studied theater at Rockford College and Improv at The Second City Training Center. Marty also chaired the Screen Actors’ Guild Conservatory Committee for 3 years bringing in several guest actors and casting directors to provide ongoing training to members.


(Minster Dodge) is glad to be working with this amazing cast of actors. Xavier has been in the following musical productions Rent (Benny), Godspell (John the Baptist), Ragtime, and The Wiz. Also, he is a freelance trumpet player playing with different Latin Bands in the Chicagoland Area. He also had the opportunity to play at Ravinia, St. Louis, Indiana, and Wisconsin. In 2008, Xavier Custodio was appointed Principal Conductor of the Chicago Public Schools All City String Ensemble. I would like to thank my parents as well as my sister for their continuous support.



(Mistress Fanny Reddington) is thrilled to be a part of The Scarecrow, as this is one of her first productions on a Chicago stage! She just recently moved here after finishing up an Acting Internship at The Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati. There she performed in Gravesongs, a part of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. The production won “Pick of the Fringe,” and was nominated for several awards, including “Best Alternative Show” and “Best Ensemble Performance.” She received a B.F.A in Theater Performance from Ohio University. Her favorite roles include Betty in Betty’s Summer Vacation, Hippolita in ‘Tis Pity, Colette in Four Dogs and a Bone and Grace in Gravesongs. She sends her love to her friends and family, but most of all she hopes you enjoy the show!


CHRIS LYSY (Captain Bugby) is thrilled to be making his Theatre-Hikes debut. He is a graduate of Act One Studio’s Conservatory program where he could be seen in productions such as Bolero, The Hot L Baltimore, Guys, and The Good Doctor. He is also a graduate of Virginia Tech’s Theatre Arts program with a B.A. in theatre and a minor in history; where he was in several productions, including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and A Number. He has also worked with the Great River Shakespeare Festival on Julius Caesar and could be seen this past August in Muse of Fire Theatre Company’s Macbeth. He would like to thank his wife, his parents, and the rest of his family and friends for all of their love and support.


(Micah and Image of the Scarecrow) is delighted to be appearing in The Scarecrow. Jennifer recently made her Theatre-Hikes debut as Mrs. Soames in Our Town. Since moving to the Chicago area, Jennifer has appeared as Ginger in Book of Days, and Ensemble in Bill W. and Dr. Bob, with Evergreen Theatre Ensemble. Jennifer relocated from Washington D.C. where she appeared in regional theatre productions, taught acting in an after school program, and performed “Operation Spy Tours” at the International Spy Museum. She is a graduate of the National Conservatory of Dramatic arts in Washington D.C.



KELLY MCGUIGAN (Mistress Cynthia Merton) is very excited to be a part of this production of The Scarecrow. After receiving her BA in Theatre from the University of Maryland (2008), Kelly moved to Chicago to study at The Second City Training Center and Improv Olympics. She was most recently a cast member of Better Off Wed, a sketch comedy show at The Second City’s Skybox Theatre. Kelly also performs around the city with her all-female comedy troupe, The SufferJets. She’d like to thank Frank and the cast, and most of all her mom.

JULIE MITRE (Mistress Dodge) is pleased to return to Theatre-Hikes. She was last seen as Aunt March in Little Women and as Nettla (deer), the Squirrel, and Butterfly in Bambi: A Life in the Woods. Recent credits include A Majority of One (James Downing Theatre), The Man Who Came to Dinner (Theatre Nebula), Orra (Halcyon Theatre), How I Learned to Drive (Village Players), and The Oldest Profession (Open Door Repertory). Julie portrayed Alice in Enter Alice and Edith in Why They Invented Dancing, performed in Chicago and at the 2003 New York Fringe Festival (UMA Productions). Julie has appeared in several commercials and independent films. She is a former dancer with Midwest Dance Theatre, Indianapolis. “Thanks to my husband Isaac for his encouragement and support.”

DREW PATRICK (Dickon) was last seen in the Theater-Hikes productions of Our Town (as Dr. Gibbs) and Robin Hood (as Sir Richard de la Lee). He previously played Dr. Rank in the Evergreen Theatre Ensemble’s production of A Doll’s House. Past credits include Oliver!, Oklahoma!, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, 12 Angry Men, Guys And Dolls, Romeo and Juliet, Chow’s Chinese, Inspecting Carol, and Dancing At Lughnasa. Special thanks to all of his friends who said (upon learning Mr. Patrick was playing The Devil) "Perfect casting!"


(Rachel Merton) is happy to be part of the "dark mystery" of The Scarecrow! She is an actor/dancer who can be seen performing with the company Dance Detour. She holds a Bachelor of Science in communication from Northwestern University. Aside from the staged reading program, this is her first production with Theatre-Hikes. Thanks to Frank Farrell and the cast for working so hard to put this show together, and to her family for their unfailing love and support.


ASHLEY TURKOWSKI (Ebenezer, Amelia Reddington) This is Ashley’s first production with Theatre-Hikes. She is very excited to be working with her wonderful cast and director. She recently graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in theater. Her most recent production at Columbia was Suburbia, where she played Bee Bee. She was also in He Who Gets Slapped as the Dancer and And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little as Fleur.





(Richard Talbot) is excited to continue working with Theatre-Hikes after a successful run of Peter Pan! He fell in love with acting and theatre at the ripe age of four when he "volunteered" to play Ensemble/Duck in The Ugly Duckling. He graduated with a B.A. in Theatre from Principia College in 2008 and moved to Chicago to pursue acting and improv. After living here for a year, he is in love with this city and the people in it! While studying, he performed such roles as The Prefect (The Government Inspector), Claudio (Measure for Measure), and Pat Denning (42nd Street). He most recently appeared as the top hat-wearing umbrella-wielding John Darling in the Theatre-Hikes production of Peter Pan. Chris wants to thank his parents for their love and support, this amazing cast, and everyone at Theatre-Hikes for this fantastic opportunity!

BILL ZIMMERMAN (The Scarecrow/Lord Ravensbane) is excited to be a part of this production of The Scarecrow, a show and a character he has truly grown to love. He was previously seen this summer in the Theatre-Hikes productions of Robin Hood (Will Scarlock) and Our Town (Howie Newsome/Sam Craig). Prior to moving to Chicago, he attended and obtained his BFA in Theatre Performance at Wayne State University. There he was seen in such productions as The Pillowman (Michael), A View from the Bridge (Alfieri), Ragtime (Father), and Comedy of Errors (Angelo/Pinch/Duke). He has also studied at the Moscow Art Theatre. Never-ending thanks to his parents, family, and friends for all of their love and support these many years.


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