tried to Kill me
But Banjos Saved My Life

An Award Winning, Inspirational True Story
Keith Alessi playing a banjo

The Cause

Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life isn’t just a show, it’s a cause. A heartfelt passion project that began as a nudge after Keith Alessi’s life took a major turn, it has been his mission to raise money for causes close to his heart. Through donations, including 100% of all artist fees, the show has raised over $970,000 as of March 2024 for various cancer, community, music, and theatre charities.

Keith shares his exceptional true story of leaving the world of corporate board rooms behind to follow his long-delayed passion—playing the banjo!

When faced with a deadly cancer battle, his musical pursuit took him on a journey that became the key to saving his life. Told through authentic storytelling, heartfelt humor and music, this show is an uplifting story of challenge, triumph, and the power of positivity. The show has been highly awarded and has toured internationally, including sold out runs across Canada, Off-Broadway in New York City, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

This intimate experience is one sure to leave you feeling empowered, inspired, and ready to dust off your own long forgotten dreams.

The People behind the Cause

Keith Alessi playing banjo in front of a microphone with a blue light in the background.
Meet Keith

Keith Alessi - Writer/ Performer

Before taking to the stage, Keith was well known as a successful public company CEO, having run companies in both Canada and the United States.  He has been a college professor, entrepreneur and has served on numerous corporate and charitable Boards of Directors.

A dual Canadian/US citizen, Keith lives in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. He is a certified public accountant and received his MBA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Keith has been touring the show internationally since 2018 across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Scotland.

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

Erika Conway portrait
Meet Erika

Erika Conway - Director/ Producer/ Dramaturg

Erika Conway, a Canadian actress, writer, director and producer is no stranger to the stage. Her 30-year performance career has included acting in multiple roles both on stage and in film/ TV, as well as creating and producing her own one woman show which had sold our performances at the Edmonton Fringe Festival.

The desire to connect with authentic and meaningful stories ultimately led her to expand her work on Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life.

That, along with her 15 year background as a yoga and meditation teacher, has been the inspiration to continue her passion of creativity in building a coaching business helping people unlock their passions and discover their authentic voice through storytelling.

Do you have a story you want to tell?

Visit Erika’s website to connect with her for more information.

Cancer Resources

Sophie's Place

Sophie's Place entrance with banner across the front.

Sophie’s Place at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, the sixth in the nation, is a dedicated music therapy environment to promote creative expression, safety, and solace for patients and their families throughout the healing process.

Esophageal Cancer Action Network

ECAN was created with the primary goal to raise awareness of the risk of Esophageal Cancer posed by persistent heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (known as GERD). While increased awareness remains ECAN’s primary focus, educating patients about their options for prevention, early detection and treatment has become a priority. ECAN has become a trusted and reliable source for the latest in medical research affecting those at risk for Esophageal Cancer.

ECAN educational graphic.