Sexy Elvis songs irk high school parent

SALT LAKE CITY — A parent who was “All Shook Up” about Elvis Presley songs in a high-school drama prompted educators to cancel the musical, deeming it too sexual. But, the decision was reversed Thursday by administrators at the high school south of Salt Lake City.

The administrators at Herriman High School received permission from the copyright owners of “All Shook Up” to edit some of Presley’s songs and make scene changes in the American jukebox musical that borrows from William Shakespeare.

“The show will go on,” said Sandy Riesgraf, a spokeswoman for the Jordan School District. “Our biggest concern early on, we wanted to make some changes to keep the play within community values. It’s a win-win for all of us.”

Presley warbles about a sweetheart whose “lips are like a volcano that’s hot” in his song from 1957. “I’m proud to say she’s my buttercup. I’m in love. I’m all shook up.”

His song lyrics together with a scene suggesting cross-dressing were deemed offensive by a person the school is refusing to identify.

Some think school administrators folded too easily at the start.

“I’m at a loss,” Jill Fishback, whose daughter worked on the production, told The Salt Lake Tribune. “They’re singing Elvis songs. A girl dresses up as a boy and kisses a boy. … It’s not promoting homosexuality. It was supposed to be a farce.”

“All Shook Up” brings a modern twist to Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” which portrays a female castaway who dresses as a boy to evade detection in ancient southern Europe, said Martine Green-Rogers, a theater fellow at the University of Utah.

“There’s a misunderstanding about the plot of the play,” Green-Rogers said. “It happens a lot in theater. Artists push boundaries.”

The female castaway dresses as a boy as cover to wander about, but reveals herself as she falls in love with a young man. “By that time, the genders have been righted,” Green-Rogers said. “The audience knows it’s not a homosexual relationship.”

Nonetheless, Herriman High School, about 20 miles from Salt Lake City, will make some scene changes to the musical version of the Shakespeare play that Riesgraf couldn’t immediately specify on Thursday.

“We weren’t asking for a lot. It will not change the intent of the play. They gave us their blessing,” she said of the musical’s producers.

Rehearsals for “All Shook Up” had been briefly canceled. The production is back on for a February run.

It wasn’t the first time some Utah parents balked at a school drama. In August, the family values group Eagle Forum got Jordan School District administrators to cancel “Dead Man Walking,” a play about a Catholic nun who counsels a death-row inmate in Louisiana.

“Dead Man Walking” was scratched even though much of its profanity had been removed from the script. The backlash prompted policy changes that allowed administrators to swiftly suspend “All Shook Up” before the reversal.

Jordan officials gave parents a greater role over student plays. They required actors to secure a parent’s permission and drama teachers to seek clearance for plays not on an approved list.

It wasn’t immediately clear Thursday how “All Shook Up” got off the ground. It had been in rehearsal for months.

More in Local News

At long last, a church of his own

After years of filling in elsewhere, Hallack Greider is the new pastor at Maplewood Presbyterian.

Judge: Lawmakers’ emails, texts subject to public disclosure

News organizations had sued to challenge the Legislature’s claim that members were exempt.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Outgoing councilwoman honored by Marysville Fire District

The Marysville Fire District in December honored outgoing City Councilwoman Donna Wright… Continue reading

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Number of flu-related deaths in county continues to grow

Statewide, 86 people have died from the flu, most of whom were 65 or older.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Most Read