Under the Influence

Book/Music/Lyrics By: Ernie Lijoi

Additional Music by: Lawrence Rush and Kevin Laursen

Under the Influence, a comedic, musical sendup of our cultural obsession with vices and the capitalism that markets them to us, follows one night in the adventures of a multitude of Anitas - Anita Smoke, Anita Drink, Anita Shot - as she navigates an array of vices and influences - coffee, alcohol, nicotine, chocolate, religion - that stalk her in the personification of a cabaret Emcee as she attempts to find her way back home and wake up from this vice-driven nightmare. In the end her "waking up" means much more than just returning home from an extended dream.

Originally produced in 2015 by Fuse Theater Ensemble as part of their Outwrite Festival, it was nominated for four local awards and won for Best Original Score and Best Male Lead in a Musical.

A new production, with new songs and a new arc for the main character opened in September of 2017 at the Funhouse Lounge in Portland, OR directed by Rusty Tennant. This production was billed as Under the Influence - All Trumped Up, and edits were made specificially to lambaste our Orange Dictator.

"In a word, it's Stupendous! It's bound for Broadway, or should be, as it's deserving, in story, music, lyrics, dialogue and cast of bigger horizons to follow, all in the capable hands of Ernie Lijoi, who conceived the whole experience." - Dennis Sparks

Read the entire review here

Under the Influence

Ernie Lijoi

Ernie produced three albums as a young recording artist in the early 2000's. His last CD "Better Days" was awarded "Best Unsigned Artist - Album of the Year" by Billboard magazine. He was also a member of the prestigious BMI Lehman Engel Musical theater workshop, where he took his songwriting to a more theatrical level. His songs have been recorded and performed by cabaret, choruses and jazz artists internationally

In 2015, he had two songs in the Broadway musical "It Shoulda Been you" directed by David Hyde Pierce starring Tyne Daly with a book by Brian Hargrove and music by Barbara Anselmi.

His own musical "Under the Influence" for which he wrote book, music and lyrics was produced in Portland that same year and won a local Drammy award for "Best Original Score". A rewrite and a revival were produced in 2017 to great critical acclaim.

Ernie is now a board member for Fuse Theatre Ensemble which produces the Outwrite theater festival, an annual to showcase new works from the LGBT community.

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We are currently working towards demos for the entire show. Here are some of the original works from when the show was first conceived. It has grown a lot since then. These songs all have lyrical changes now or additional sections, but the spirit of the music is the same.

From the COFFEE Section: Coffee in the Mornin'

From the CHOCOLATE section: Love at First Bite

From the SEX section: The Alphabet Song

From the ALCOHOL section: The Routine

Under the Influence

Coffee in the Morning

The Alphabet Song

Barbie Dream / Nightmare

Love the Smoker, Hate the Smoke

White Christian Americans

How to Order Coffee

You're a Nation in the Eyes of Jesus

Tasting Wine!

The Routine

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Photos: Greg Parkinson


With the cast of his original musical Under the Influence. Brian Demar Jones, Ernie Lijoi, Sarah Elizabeth and Leslie Renee

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Ernie Lijoi as MAN

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Ithica Tell as EMCEE

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Sarah Elizabeth as ANITA

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Jessica Tidd as WOMAN

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Alec Lugo as swing