The Pursuit of Happiness

Or 'The Wacky Lesbian Adventures of Brillo Pad and Hula Hoop'

Book • Music • Lyrics by Ernie Lijoi

"A masterpiece of musical theater that breaks boundaries, in both form and representation."

The Pursuit of Happiness


The Pursuit of Happiness

Or 'The Wacky Lesbian Adventures of Brillo Pad and Hula Hoop' follows the lives of six fictional people after a very NON-fictional event that occurred on January, 13th 2018 in Hawaii where an alarm was sounded warning citizens of an incoming missile. In the chaotic panic of imminent death, they divulge their secrets and expose their lies to one another, only to survive and be forced to live with the fallout.

Orchestrated by a pantheon of bumbling 'Gods of Happiness' who function as a Greek chorus, this bomb scare turns out to be a premeditated divine intervention designed to shock the humans out of their complacent denial into being present in their own lives and thus, achieve happiness.

As the human lives and relationships unravel, so does their reality, until they are left to solve a metaphysical puzzle in an effort to escape their seemingly inevitable fate.

In the end, The Pursuit of Happiness is a meta-metaphor for being forced into an eternal cycle of queer trauma and the reclamation of our own narratives from those who exploit our pain as a nod to diversity and inclusion.

Cast Breakdown

The Pursuit of Happiness is performed by a cast of seven. All but GOD play both a God of Happiness and the human they inhabit. While the cast mandates Sabrina as non-white, more racial representation is encouraged.


Leader of the Gods of Happiness. They/Them pronouns.


Literary agent to Howard. Wife to Emory. Trans. Pronouns She/Her. As a god, second in command wearing the Robe of Dignity.


Pastor to Sabrina. Wife of Clark. Pronouns She/Her. As a god, the newest of the gods wearing the Robe of Humility.


Wife of Howard. Pronouns She/Her. As a god,wearing the robe of Bravery.


Owner of a literary agency. Husband to Dixie. Pronouns He/Him. As a god, wearing the Robe of Empathy.


Husband to Hughla. Pronouns He/Him. As a god, wearing the RObe of Clarity.


Author of The Pursuit of Happiness. Husband to Sabrina. Pronouns He/Him. As a god, in the Robe of Honesty.

Image Gallery

Production photos from The OUTwright Festival in conjusntion with Fuse Theatre Ensemble June, 2023 production, Reed College, Portland, OR
directed by Rusty Tennant, music direction by Mak Kastelic. Full digital program available here.
All photos by Greg Parkinson.

Quotes & Reviews

Lijoi is a genius for making campy and catchy hooks centered around living in denial and the pervasive nothingness of the universe. Read the full review here.

Sierra Vandervort - Renegade PNW

Myrrh Larson

A delightfully queer & profoundly postmodern story about seeking joy in a world that actively discourages people (especially queer people) from living our truth.
Ernie Lijoi’s The Pursuit of Happiness was one of the best musicals I’ve seen on any size stage. Funny and moving and clever and meta and thoughtful and queer... reminded me of the best of Sondheim.

Thor Stockman

Nandi La Sophia

This play should be on stages with thousands of people watching. Thoughtful and philosophical... with a deep and abiding love for theater and a deep and enduring, loyal affection for queer people and our humanity.


Demo Reels

Some Solos

These three songs were recorded during the pandemic after the original production was postponed. All COVID precautions were taken.
Mak Kastelic at the piano.

Alec Lugo & Kate Faye Cummings

Disappearing / Change the World

These two songs function as a set. Two people reliving their trauma, one of them overcoming their denial, the other digging deeper into it.

Brian Burger

Mourning the Loss

A gay man struggles to come to terms with his husband's transition.

Song Demos


For script/score and more information about producing The Pursuit of Happiness please reach out.


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