'Cats' claws its way back to the Chicago area stage

With cat videos, memes, T-shirts and calendars proliferating among the culture, it's no wonder that another version of the stage musical "Cats" returns to the Chicago area this fall.

The world of Jellicle Cats comes to the Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora as the first production of its blockbuster 2014-15 Broadway Subscription series.

Winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score, "Cats" is one of the most popular and beloved theatrical productions on the planet, filled with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lush orchestrations by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Packed with iconic musical numbers including the show-stopping "Memory," "Cats" is a dance-driven extravaganza entirely based on T.S. Eliot's collection of poetry, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." The action takes place on the most sacred night of the year as a tribe of felines prepare for the Jellicle Ball. Every member of the tribe tries to prove they're worthy enough to be "the one" selected to be reborn in the afterlife and live for eternity in the glorious "Heaviside Layer." The 16-member Paramount Orchestra will play the full, original Broadway orchestrations for "Cats".

A little "Cats"-nip: "Cats" set records for running 21 years in London and 18 years on Broadway, surpassed only by Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. In the original 1981 London production, Dame Judi Dench, cast as Grizabella, snapped her Achilles tendon during rehearsal prior to the show's opening night. Dench went on despite the injury and the cast received an astounding standing ovation.

Performances are September 10-October 12, 2014. Regular show times are Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Thursday at 7 p.m.; Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tickets are only $41 to $54. To purchase, go to ParamountAurora.com, call (630) 896-6666, or visit the Paramount box office Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and two hours prior to evening performances. "Cats" is rated G so bring the kittens.