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Information: If you're interested in volunteering your garage for a performance during this summer's tour by the Off-Leash theater company, or to learn more about the company, call 612-724-7372 or visit The tour usually starts around mid-August.

This year's production: "The Picnic," a family-friendly tale about a romance between a dog and a bird, draws inspiration from Japanese Anime cartoons.

"Because we're movement-based, most of the show is told without using text," said Jennifer Ilse, Off-Leash's co-artistic director.

Ilse plays the part of the dog. The character is based on the couple's 3-year-old Doberman, Lily. The dog is a free spirit, while the bird is a neat freak. "It's the classic setup of two characters that are opposite of each other," Ilse said.

"We find that kids are completely enraptured by all of the visuals and the physicality," said Paul Herwig, Ilse's husband and Off-Leash co-artistic director. "They identify with the characters."

At the same time, the older crowd "gets to chew on the more adult theme of trying to get two different people to live together and get along."