In true rags-to-riches fashion, Keith Alessi grew up in an Italian immigrant family where eating meat was a luxury. Staring down incredible odds, he eventually received his MBA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and went on to become CEO of a large company. In addition to this he was also appointed as an adjunct university professor. At what would seem a high point in his life and career, Alessi abandoned his well-paid post to pursue his passion of playing the banjo.
Though the story might on paper seem like the stuff of Magical Realism, in fact, Keith Alessi presents an unflinching account of his story in Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me, But Banjos Saved My Life. The one-man play that had audiences spellbound off Broadway in New York, is on now at Rosebud Theatre until May 28.
Tony King recently chatted with Keith Alessi about how the play came about, and the stranger-than-fiction story that changed his life’s trajectory: