About Us

‘Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life’ is a heartfelt passion project that began as an idea in March 2018, not long after a devastating life event caused Keith Alessi to think differently about his future.

Encouraged by friends and family to share his story, Keith decided to set to work writing it all down, and in three days he had the foundation of what would become his one man show.

In July 2018, after premiering at The Oggi Art gallery in Chicago, the show began its real journey to the stage at the Toronto Fringe Festival.  Several other festivals followed.  The run started with small, but enthusiastic, audiences and ended with full houses and standing ovations.

It was clear that the show had a life of its own and was gaining momentum.  The Tomatoes Team realized how important this show was. Very deep and personal connections were being made and the show was having profound impact on audiences.

As Keith brought down his personal walls and embraced his vulnerability on stage, the more people were moved.  The journey needed to continue.

2019 kicked off with three awards at the Frigid Fringe Festival in NYC.  The show continued to gain traction, winning awards, excellent reviews and sellout runs in multiple cities along the way.  The year was capped off when the show was selected to participate in the Fringe Encore Series, Off Broadway, at the Historic Soho Playhouse in NYC.  The series featured 18 "Best Of" shows selected from Fringe Festivals worldwide.

Putting accolades aside, the most rewarding part of the journey has been to see how the show connects to people on a deep and personal level.

So, what’s next? Doors continue to open and intriguing opportunities present themselves. The heartbeat of the show is clearly being guided and the path is being lit.

Although 2020 led to many cancellations, we believe that the show is more relevant now, than ever before.

We are optimistically awaiting the return of live theatre.


Follow the journey on our social media platforms and website.


Keith Alessi - Writer and performer, Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me but Banjos Saved My Life

Before taking to the stage, Keith was well known as a successful public company CEO, entrepreneur and college professor. He has led companies in both Canada and the United States. 

Keith wrote ‘Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life’ in 2018 and has performed in Fringe Festivals across Canada, the US, and the UK since July 2018.  He has also performed the show in numerous other professional venues.  

Through donation of 100% of his artist fees, Keith has used the show as a vehicle to raise over $475,000 (CAD) for cancer and arts charities.

A dual CA/US citizen, Keith splits his time between Vancouver, British Columbia and Meadows of Dan, Virginia. He is a certified public accountant and received his MBA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 

Here is his LinkedIn Page to find out what he did before taking to the stage!

Erika Conway-Director, Producer, Dramaturg, Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life

Erika Conway is a Canadian actress, writer, director and producer.

Her 25-year career has included acting in multiple roles both on stage, film, TV and web series.  She has written, produced and performed a one woman show for the Edmonton Fringe.