‘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 AB, and finally Vancouver BC. 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.
Reflecting upon the 2018 run, the Tomatoes Team realized how 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. 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 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 few years, 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.
Although 2020 led to many cancellations, we are optimistic about 2021 as our show is more relevant now, than ever before!
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 in 11 Fringe Festivals across Canada, the US, and the UK since July 2018.
Although 9 scheduled Fringe festivals, including the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland, were canceled during the 2020 pandemic, Keith is looking forward to making up many of these dates in 2021.
His show was selected as one of 18 “best of” shows, worldwide, to participate in The Fringe Encore Series, Off Broadway, at the Soho Playhouse in New York City, where he had a sold out run in December, 2019.
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!