Anglophones calling Germany’s Rhine-Main metropolitan region home had reason to rejoice in 2003, when The English Theatre Frankfurt
settled into its permanent, state-of-the-art home in the newly built Gallileo skyscraper. A decade and a half later, Americans, Aussies, Brits and other ex-pat types with a strong grasp of English still appreciate the opportunity to indulge in a spot of the theater without struggling through dialogue in a tongue they find hard to follow. Despite its popularity with the international set, the best-represented nationality among theatergoers is none other than the Germans themselves.
With its 300 seats and an average of around 60,000 attendees per year, The English Theatre Frankfurt is considered the largest English-speaking theater in continental Europe. Its productions cover a wide range of genres, from classics to comedies and thrillers and musicals. Actors and actresses most often hail from English-speaking countries, and they are cast for a specific play rather than part of a permanent company. The plays are often co-productions with other companies; the Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara is currently engaged in a collaborative effort.
The short walk between Frankfurt’s main train station and the theater leads through a colorful nightlife district that stands at odds with the elegant venue. A first-time visitor feeling skeptical as to the professionalism of this operation will find any doubts vanishing from the moment the curtain rises. The two plays I was lucky enough to have seen here in years past, The Full Monty and Cabaret, I thoroughly enjoyed, and I was wowed by the performances of the leads in both cases.
Before or after the show, or during the intermission, the on-site James Bar is the place to enjoy a drink or snack and perhaps even say hello to one of the actors. The cozy split-level lounge also hosts events and parties appealing to an international crowd, such as a monthly funk and soul party or group viewings of broadcasts of major events.
The plays treat all manner of topics, and as such, aren’t necessarily suitable for an all-ages crowd or those with sensitivities toward sex, profanity or other delicate subjects. Upcoming productions for which tickets are now being sold include The Invisible Hand
; a political thriller in which an American banker kidnapped in Pakistan offers to raise his own ransom by teaching his captor how to play the stock market; and The Hound of the Baskervilles
, a funny makeover of the classic starring Sherlock Holmes.
Ticket prices for most shows range from around 20 to 40 euros. Over the course of a play’s first week on stage, an early bird special offers a 25% reduction in normal ticket prices for weekday performances.
The English Theatre Frankfurt’s address is Gallusanlage 7, 60329 Frankfurt am Main. Performances start at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and at 6 p.m. Sundays. The box office is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Sundays.