‘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, then Edmonton, and finally in Vancouver. The summer 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.
Reflecting upon the 2018 run, the Tomatoes Team realized how soulful, personal and important this show was. Very deep and personal connections were being made and the show was having profound effects on audiences.
Keith came to the realization that the more he brought his own personal walls down, and embraced his vulnerability on stage, the more people were moved. The journey needed to continue.
In 2019 Keith entered ten Fringe Festival lotteries across Canada, the US, and the UK, and was accepted into eight!
Game on, it’s a tour!
The 2019 tour kicked off by winning three awards at the Frigid Fringe Festival in NYC, and continued to gain traction, winning awards, incredible reviews, sellout runs, and holdover shows in multiple cities along the way.
Putting accolades aside, the most amazing part of the journey has been seeing how the show connects to people on a deep and personal level. There are many messages to take away.
Keith has had more hugs, tears and love in the past year, than in his entire lifetime. Emotional walls are being broken down. Truth is setting people free. The whole process has been deeply healing.
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. 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 and college professor. He has led companies in both Canada and the United States.
Encouraged by others to tell his personal story of challenges and triumph, Keith wrote ‘Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me’ and has performed 89 shows in 11 cities across Canada, the US, and the UK over the past year and a half.
A dual Canadian/US citizen, Keith splits his time between Vancouver, British Columbia and Virginia. He is a certified public accountant and received his MBA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
In his free time, he pursues his passions of flying and banjos!
Here is his LinkedIn Page to find out what he did before taking to the stage!
Producer/ Director/ Dramaturg: Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life
Erika Conway, a Canadian actress, writer, director and producer is no stranger to the stage. Her 25 year career has included acting in multiple roles both on stage and in film/ TV including: Anne Frank: The Diary of Anne Frank, Beatrice: Much Ado About Nothing, Alma: Summer And Smoke, Mother: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Dr. Lambert: Blackstone, and most recently Nyx in the new Canadian webseries, Necessary Evil, which premiered at the Edmonton International Film Festival in September 2018, and has been nominated and won numerous international awards.
Theater has always been Erika’s first love and although acting and writing has been a major part of her career and life, she has been more recently honing her directing and dramaturg skills.
In 2016, Erika wrote and produced a one woman show for the Edmonton Fringe Festival called Confessions of a Middle-Aged Drama Queen which was a very personal show that began a new direction in her creative life. The desire to connect with authentic and meaningful projects ultimately lead her to expand her work on Keith’s one man show ‘Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life.’
Erika is delighted to have been a part of this compelling story since it gave birth and is honored to be a part of this ever growing, deeply meaningful tour.
Here is her IMDB Page to find out more about her career in film.
Melissa Kennedy - Marketing & Publicity: Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life
Melissa has been in marketing since 2003 and worked with several well-known national media companies. She started her career at CBS Radio and managed the marketing for the largest radio station in the market, WBBM-AM.
In 2009, she moved to television to oversee the marketing for Weigel Broadcasting Co., which included the launch of four networks including MeTV, Decades, Heroes & Icons and Movies! Melissa co-wrote 'Randos', a TV pilot which was produced by Zacuto in 2017 and is also a front end web designer. When she's not doing work for her clients, she likes to read romance and spy novels and write hopefully funny screenplays.
Here is her LinkedIn Page to connect!