Alan Gross Interview - A Chicago Playwright You Should Know

Alan Gross, author of HIGH HOLIDAYS, now playing at the Goodman Theater

Just so you know, this is not your typical journalistic interview. Alan and I have been friends since the ‘60s. So our interview is part reunion and part celebration of the opening of his new play, High Holidays at the Goodman. Feel free to join in the fun.

Alan and Patricia discuss HIGH HOLIDAYS

Lots of people are celebrating Alan Gross's return to the Chicago stage. High Holidays' opening night, Monday, November 9 is already SOLD OUT, so I strongly suggest you make reservations today.  Now, actually. All the information you’ll need appears at the end of this interview. Go. Make your reservations.  I’ll wait.

Alan in a pensive moment

Alan is complicated, funny, imaginative and philosophical. It is reasonable to expect his play to be complicated, funny, imaginative and philosophical—especially since, as he confesses, he is all the characters. As he puts it,

How does a playwright become four characters?

“I wanted to write a family play while I was still …not senile. Freud said that work and family are the two great things that the twentieth century is about…I must say the character of Essie is not my mother.  Like Flaubert said that he is Madame Bovary, I am Essie. I am all four of the characters.”

Alan Gross between bites

At the center of his drama—inspired by Gross' own life and family experience—is young Billy Roman ( Max Zuppa) and the anxiety-riddled preparations for his Bar Mitzvah in 1963 north suburban Chicago. When Billy's older brother Rob ( Ian Paul Custer) returns from college for the High Holidays, he further elevates household tensions by bringing along his own ideas about his future—and the boys' parents Essie ( Rengin Altay) and Nate ( Keith Kupferer) must face some difficult truths about coming-of-age in America.

Alan Gross reminisces

A Skokie native, Alan is the author of a dozen plays, including his tremendously successful first play, Lunching, followed by The Phone Room, The Conversion of Leo Novotny, La Brea Tarpits, The Man in 605, Morning Call and The Secret Life of American Poets. He has also written several books for children, most notably, What if the Teacher Calls on Me? He is also a prize-winning poet.

Click here to read our review of High Holidays

High Holidays previews November 1-8 and runs until November 29.

Tickets: High Holidays tickets ($10 – $40) are currently on sale at

Tickets can also be purchased at the box office (170 North Dearborn) or by phone at 312.443.3800.

Mezztix are half-price mezzanine tickets available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX) day of performance; Mezztix are not available by telephone.

10Tix are $10 mezzanine tickets for students available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online on the day of performance; 10Tix are not available by telephone. Valid student I.D. must be presented when picking up the tickets. Limit four per student with I.D. All tickets are subject to availability and handling fees apply.

Discounted Group Tickets for 10 persons or more are available at 312.443.3820.

Visit the Goodman virtually:

Photos: Herb Simms for Chicago Splash

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