Meet The Assassins: Giuseppe Zangara

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About the Actor: John Coons

Coons joins the cast as Giuseppe Zangara. He is thrilled to be making his 5th Ave debut with this production of Assassins.  Hailed as “powerful, funny and audacious” by CityArts, Coons has sung roles with the Seattle Opera, Eugene Opera, Skagit Opera, Inverse Opera and the Boston Opera Collaborative. He has performed with the Seattle Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Boston Symphony POPS, Atlanta Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Portland Symphony POPS and sung the national anthem for the Red Sox at Fenway Park. In addition to performing with popular artists Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer and Foreigner, his original one-man show, Six Months for Six Weeks, was released as a critically-acclaimed web series.

About the Assassin: Giuseppe Zangara

Born in Italy in 1900, Giuseppe Zangara migrated to the United States after serving in World War I. Due to both physical and mental health issues, he found difficulty working consistently and did odd jobs to stay afloat. In this troubled state, Zangara began to believe that the President of the United States was the one responsible for his pain and hardship. On February 15, 1933, Zangara attended a political event in Miami, Florida, where President Roosevelt and Chicago mayor Anton Cermak were present. He opened fire and five people were shot, including Cermack. The mayor lost his life but President Roosevelt was unharmed.

Under Florida law, a convicted murderer could not share cell space with another prisoner before his execution, but another convicted murderer was already awaiting execution at Florida State Prison in Raiford, Florida. Therefore, Zangara’s sentence required prison officials to expand their waiting area, and the “death cell” became “Death Row.” On March 20, 1933, after spending only 10 days on Death Row, Zangara was executed in “Old Sparky,” the electric chair in Raiford. Zangara became enraged when he learned that no newsreel cameras would be filming his final moments. Zangara’s final statement was “Viva Italia! Goodbye to all poor peoples everywhere! … Push the button! Go ahead, push the button!”

Come see Assassins, performed at ACT—A Contemporary Theatre. Visit our website, and search March 17-April 7 for best availability.

Check back next week for our next casting announcement!


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