Oliver Button is a Sissy

Oliver Button is a sissy. At least that’s what the other kids call him. But here’s what Oliver Button really is: a reader, and an artist, and a singer, and a dancer, and more. What will his classmates say when he steps into the spotlight?

South Coast Chorale is excited to present free educational outreach performances of “Oliver Button is a Sissy” to school groups in the greater Long Beach area. Below is additional information about the concert and details regarding the educational outreach performances. For specific questions or additional information, please email oliverbutton@southcoastchorale.org.


Friday, March 10, 2023

Morning performances

Beverly O’Neill Theater at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center

INTERESTED? Click the button below and complete the form to indicate your interest in these educational performances for your students/group!

We’re interested!

What is Oliver Button is a Sissy?
Oliver Button is a Sissy is an acclaimed children’s book by Tomie DePaola. With themes of identity, acceptance, and anti-bullying, it is a heartwarming story about a boy who doesn’t like to do what “normal” boys do. Instead of sports, he likes to read, draw pictures, dress up in costumes, and sing and dance. His mother tells him he needs to get some exercise, and when Oliver mentions he likes to dance, his parents enroll him in Ms. Leah’s Dancing School. The other kids start to make fun of Oliver and he becomes sad when one day he arrives at school and someone had written “Oliver Button is a sissy” on the school wall. Despite the teasing and bullying, Oliver continues to practice his dancing and even enters the big talent show. When his teacher encourages the other students to attend and Oliver ends up not winning, he is reluctant to go back to school and be teased and bullied again. In the end, however, Oliver’s performance made everyone realize that Oliver is special, and when he walked into school the next day, he discovers that someone has crossed out the word sissy on the school wall. Now the sign reads, Oliver Button is a star!

With music and lyrics by Alan Shorter, the South Coast Chorale’s performance is a semi-staged musical adaptation of the story.
How long is the performance?
The educational experience will last 60min. Presented as a roughly 30min choral & orchestral oratorio, Oliver Button is a Sissy will be preceded by a few additional songs from the South Coast Chorale, weaved into an educational discussion on the overall themes, with some chorus members sharing their personal experiences of acceptance.
Who is part of the performance?
This concert will be presented by the South Coast Chorale, in partnership with members of the Musique Sur La Mer Professional & Youth Orchestras, youth performers from The Kid’s Theatre Company (TKTC), and members of the Landmark Theatre Company for a truly collaborative Long Beach community musical event. The performance will also include a to-be-announced celebrity narrator.
What are appropriate grade levels?
Though the original book was written for elementary school ages 5-11, the themes and messages that are enhanced by the musical adaptation are important for all ages. This educational experience is highly recommend for kids in Elementary through Junior High.

Exposure of these messages and themes to High School students is also encouraged. While the story of Oliver Button is told from a younger perspective, we recognize that the early years of High School can also play an important part in the self-discovery of our identity and that the universal themes presented not only in the story, but also in the songs and experiences that will be shared by chorus members are an important message throughout adolescence.
How do I get my school/group to the theater?
We are currently working with community sponsors, donors, and foundations to assist with transportation costs to and from the Long Beach Convention Center. Please indicate on the interest form if your school will incur transportation costs and our team will reach out with additional information when we have it.
Will you provide educational materials?
Yes! We will provide all groups with age appropriate educational materials that can be used in pre- and post-concert classroom/group discussions and activities. These materials will help prepare students for what they are about to see and also continue the conversation around these important themes. Please be sure to indicate grade level and class type when completing the interest form in order to receive the best educational materials for your group.

Ticketed public performances will be presented on Saturday, March 11, 2023 at the Beverly O’Neill Theater at 2:30pm and 7:30pm. Group and educational discounts will also be available for these public performances and can be arranged for your group by contacting oliverbutton@southcoastchorale.org.

Oliver Button is a Sissy is supported, in part by…