Keith Alessi in <em>Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life</em>. (ACT Arts Centre/Special to The News)

Keith Alessi in Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life. (ACT Arts Centre/Special to The News)

True story of how a banjo saved a man’s life coming to Maple Ridge theatre

Every ticket sold will raise money for two local charities

A man with a banjo and an inspirational, true story to tell will be taking the stage at the ACT Arts Centre raising money for local charities.

Keith Alessi will be starring in the one-man show that he also wrote called Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life on Friday, Jan. 27.

Half of each $50 ticket will be donated to both the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation and the ACT Arts Centre. In addition an anonymous donor will be matching every $25 donation.

What Alessi describes as a “passion project”, began when his own life took a major turn after a “devastating” life event, that led to his desire to play the banjo, leading to a transition in his life and personal healing.

Before his move to the stage, he was the CEO of a successful company, an entrepreneur, and college professor. He led companies in both Canada and the United States.

Alessi is a certified public accountant and received an MBA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Since 2018 he has performed in Fringe Festivals and at other venues across Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

The show has garnered Alessi numerous awards including: the Official Selection of the Fringe Encore Series in New York City in 2019; Top Three Fringe Picks in Edmonton in 2019; Pick of the Fringe in Vancouver in 2019; Winner of the Most Inspirational and Festival Spirit Awards at the New York City Frigid Fringe in 2019; Winner of Spirit of the Fringe at the Windsor-Walkerville Fringe in 2019; it had a sold-out run in Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Vancouver, and off-Broadway; and it was a finalist for the OnComm Award in Edinburgh in 2021.

READ MORE: The ACT Arts Centre receives thousands in provincial funding for pandemic recovery

Erika Conway, is the director and producer of the show. She is a Canadian actress who has had multiple roles on stage, as well as in film and television. She also created and produced her own one woman show that sold out at the Edmonton Fringe Fest.

The show is described as a testimony to “overcoming obstacles, pursuing passions, and the healing power of music”.

Juno Award winners Pharis and Jason Romero will make a special guest appearance.

ALSO: Maple Ridge signs three-year deal for operation of The ACT

Tickets to Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life include one complimentary glass of wine, hors d’oeuvres provided by Humble Roots Cafe, and a cash bar starting at 6:30 p.m. at a reception before the performance.

The performance takes place at 8 p.m. and is estimated to be 75 minutes in length with no intermission, followed by a Talk Back.

Tickets must be reserved and $25 of each ticket is tax deductible.

To purchase a ticket go to

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