Keith-Alessi-Tomatoes-Tried-To-Kill-MeBefore taking to the stage, Keith Alessi, the writer and performer of Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life was well known as a successful public company CEO and entrepreneur.

Encouraged by others to tell his personal story of challenges and triumph, Keith wrote Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me and performed it in Chicago, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, Roanoke, and Floyd, Virginia last year. He’s bringing the show to the Windsor-Walkerville Fringe Festival in Walkerville on May 22 to 26.

Although he’s located in Vancouver, Keith’s father, a central figure in the show, grew up on Langlois Street and attended Assumption College Catholic High School.

Please give us the 1-minute elevator speech about your show:
I was a well known public company CEO who spent a lifetime building a world class banjo collection but couldn’t play them.  I decided to finally learn to play three and a half years ago only to find out two weeks later that I had a 50% chance of living a year, cancer.  My story covers my meteoric rise in business, my battle with cancer, my pursuit of my banjo passion and the ultimate healing power of the arts as I found resolution in a community of musicians. It’s a true story, one man show, told with humor and music.

Who is involved in putting your show together?
Keith Alessi, writer and performer.  Erika Conway, a Canadian actress out of Vancouver is the Producer

Please tell us about yourself:
I grew up in Detroit, the son of Italian immigrants. My father, Tullio was born in Italy and came to Windsor when he was 10.  He was educated at Assumption.  I’m a dual citizen splitting my time between Vancouver and Roanoke, Virginia.  More bio information can be found at the “About Us” Tab at

Is this your first Fringe production?
Yes.  It debuted at the Toronto Fringe last July.  We then performed at the Edmonton and Vancouver Fringes.  This year we are doing 8 Fringes.  In March we won three awards at the New York City Frigid Fringe, Sold Out Show Award. Most Inspirational Show Award and Spirit of the Fringe Award.  Last week we were at the Brighton UK Fringe.  This week we are at the Orlando Fringe.  After Windsor we will be going to the Fringes in Regina, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.

What does Fringe mean to you?
The Fringe has allowed me to have my voice heard.  I hadn’t been on stage since high school, in 1972!  The Fringe has allowed me to take to the stage and make incredible connections with audiences and other artists.

Aside from Fringe, what are you up to this year?
I’m retired!  But I teach at the Washington and Lee University Law School as an Adjunct Professor.

Tickets and more information are available on the Windsor-Walkerville Fringe Festival website

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