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Michael Gruber as Munkustrap in the 1998 Cats video.

Munkustrap is a Jellicle cat from T. S. Eliot's poem "The Naming of Cats".[1] He is a principal character and the main narrator in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats, which is based on Eliot's poems.

Munkustrap is the storyteller and guardian of his tribe. The role was originated by Jeff Shankley in the West End in 1981, and by Harry Groener on Broadway in 1982.

Character description[edit]

Munkustrap is the protector of the Jellicle tribe; he is brave, level-headed and dependable. As the tribe's second-in-command after patriarch Old Deuteronomy, he oversees the Jellicle Ball and ensures that everything runs smoothly. He functions as the show's main narrator, singing several songs and introducing many of the other cats. When Macavity attacks the tribe, it is Munkustrap who fights him off. Munkustrap's relationship with the other characters is depicted in the musical: he reveres Old Deuteronomy, watches out for the reckless younger members of his tribe, and is often annoyed by his rebellious younger brother, Rum Tum Tugger, who he has to keep in line.[2][3]

He is usually depicted onstage as a tall, grey tabby cat with a commanding presence.[3] The role is meant to be played by a baritone.[2][4]

Notable casting[edit]

The role of Munkustrap was originated by Jeff Shankley on the West End in 1981,[5] and by Harry Groener on Broadway in 1982.[6] Other notable performers include Gary Martin, Bryan Batt, John Partridge, Rob Marshall, and Jeffry Denman. In the German-speaking world premiere of Cats, Steve Barton played the role of Munkustrap/Dance Captain in the Theater an der Wien. In the 2011 German tour, Matthew Goodgame played the role of Munkustrap. The character was played by Callum Train in the 2014 West End revival,[7] and by Andy Huntington Jones in the 2016 Broadway revival.[8]

On screen, Michael Gruber portrayed Munkustrap in the 1998 Cats film adaptation.[9]


  1. ^ "The Naming of Cats". Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  2. ^ a b Sternfeld 2006, p. 130–131
  3. ^ a b "Munkustrap". Cats the musical (official website). Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Cast / Vocal Requirements: Cats". The Musical Company. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Original London Cast List". Really Useful Group. Archived from the original on 15 August 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Original Broadway Cast List". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  7. ^ Shenton, Mark (24 October 2014). "Complete Casting Announced for Cats at London Palladium". Playbill. Archived from the original on 26 March 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Inside the Playbill: Cats – Opening Night at the Neil Simon Theatre: Cast". Playbill. Archived from the original on 24 March 2019. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  9. ^ "1998 Video Cast List". Really Useful Group. Archived from the original on 7 April 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2019.

Print sources[edit]

General references[edit]

  • Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, T. S. Eliot, Harcourt, 1982, ISBN 0-15-168656-4
  • A Cat's Diary: How the Broadway Production of Cats was born, Stephen Hanan, Smith & Kraus, 2002, ISBN 1-57525-281-3