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Preview: Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life on tour

 Award-winning inspirational true story returns to the stage for an exclusive four-date tour this Summer 

CaroleW Productions presents an exclusive micro tour of 

Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life 

Friday 26 - Monday 29 July 2024

Performed by Keith Alessi 

Directed by Erika Conway 

Following a series of international sell-out runs, Keith Alessi is returning to the North East & Cumbria for an exclusive four-date tour of his hit one-man show Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life this July, presented by CaroleW Productions. 

Audiences are invited to four eclectic venues to hear Keith Alessi share 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 humour and music, this show is an uplifting story of challenge, triumph, and the power of positivity. 

Carole Wears, founder of CaroleW Productions, said: “Keith’s show is an intimate experience sure to leave audiences feeling empowered, inspired, and ready to dust off their own long-forgotten dreams. Keith’s unique life journey makes his story all the more relatable and inspiring, and his message of hope and resilience resonates with people from all walks of life. We are delighted that Keith is returning to the North East & Cumbria to share his story with audiences ahead of his run at Surgeon’s Hall at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We guarantee this show will stay with you long after the applause has ended. Don’t miss it!”

Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life will be performed in Cumbria at Staveley Roundhouse in Kendal on Friday 26 July at 7.30pm before paying a visit to Northumberland for a performance at Wark Mechanics Institute and Town Hall in Hexham on Saturday 27 July at 7pm. Audiences in Newcastle can catch the show at Gosforth Civic Theatre on Sunday 28 July at 3pm before it heads to the coast in North Tyneside for a final performance at Cullercoats Watch House on Monday 29 July at 7.30pm. 

Keith is neither an actor nor a musician. His journey to the stage was a highly improbable one. Featuring the grassroots sound of the banjo, Keith takes audiences on the journey of his unique personal story about how music was the catalyst to ultimately saving his life.

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 Festival Fringe in Scotland.

Director, Erika Conway, said: “Keith is an entertaining and dynamic storyteller. But, it is his bravery, authenticity and vulnerability on stage that holds the real power to this piece. We have purposefully constructed it in a way that allows him to engage audiences in the journey, disarm them with music and humour and then pull at their heartstrings. It has been an absolute privilege to be a part of bringing this incredible story to the stage. I hope audiences will reflect on their own journeys and unlock passions that have been tucked away.”

Since its humble beginnings as a six-show experiment, Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life has grown into a powerful force for good, raising money for important causes and touching countless lives. 

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, so far, raised over £765,000 as of March 2024 for various cancer, community, music, and theatre charities.

All the money earned from ticket sales at these four performances will be donated to eight charities and good causes across the North East & Cumbria. Organisations to receive a donation are Staveley Roundhouse Theatre in Kendal; Wark Mechanics Institute and Town Hall; The Monday Men, a group of men who maintain the village of Wark; Core Music in Hexham, a safe, supportive space for musicians of any age and ability to connect, create, develop, study and play; Daft as a Brush, who transport cancer patients to and from hospital free of charge; Radio Tyneside, a hospital and community radio station for Newcastle and Gateshead; Liberdade Community Development Trust the disability arts organisation who ounded, and run, Gosforth Civic Theatre; and Cullercoats Watch House Restoration Fund which aims to restore the former lookout post to make it once again a thriving and inviting community hub. 

Photos: Tom Hall


For more information about Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life and to book tickets, visit

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