A menagerie of animals has invaded the ANTIC stage for two weekends, as the theater stages a charming rendition of "Dr. Dolittle."

The show, which can be seen March 14 and 15 at 8 p.m., and March 16 at 3 p.m., tells the story of Dr. John Dolittle (played by Mark Brown), a congenial but absentminded doctor who discovers one day that he can communicate with animals (and often with more success than with people). The good doctor finds his talent leads him to new adventures and hazards -- both at home and abroad.

Director Liz Hickman said this was the first family gala the theater had staged in some time.

"We had our first family gala in 1996," she said. "This is one of the first shows in a long time where we've really spotlighted the kids. It's been a lot of fun."

Hickman said there were about 45 people in the cast, playing about 50 characters.

"The costumes were a lot of fun," Hickman said. "Pushmi and Pullyu was the biggest challenge. I searched everywhere, and even the theaters who have done this, and they didn't have [a costume]. So finally, Stephanie Gallagher sewed one.

"So many people were involved," she added. "I asked for help, and I always got it.

Pushmi-Pullyu is a two-headed llama-like creature, played by Aneya Schvartz and Mackenzie Schneider.

Gallagher, who lives in Cuyahoga Falls, said sewing the costume was a challenge.

"There was fur everywhere," she said, and laughed. "But the girls are so adorable."

Another point of interest in the show is the ship - or, actually, ships - created by Don Howdyshell, who plays Mr. Jenkyns (Dr. Dolittle's attorney) and Howdyshell's brother Craig. The ship piece shows as both a small schooner Dr. Dolittle sails on for one side, then is flipped to represent the pirate ship sailed by Ben Ali (played by Claus Siebenhaar) and his crew.

"It took us about two hours to do," Howdyshell said. "It was great fun. This was my first play since sixth grade, and that show was here, too. So I'm back, about 60 years later."

"Dr. Dolittle" is at the Newell Theatre at the Quirk Cultural Center, 1201 Grant Avenue in Cuyahoga Falls. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for Students, $6 for seniors and children under 12. Tickets will be available at the door.

In August, ANTIC will stage a nonmusical version of "Les Miserables."

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438