Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 9:59 AM
WEST JORDAN — A parent who was “All Shook Up” about Elvis Presley songs in a high-school drama prompted educators to cancel the production, deeming it too sexually suggestive.
Presley warbles over a sweetheart whose “lips are like a volcano that’s hot” in his 1957 song. “I’m proud to say she’s my buttercup. I’m in love. I’m all shook up.”
Presley’s song lyrics and a scene suggesting cross-dressing were deemed offensive by school administrators.
Rehearsals for “All Shook Up” were canceled before the play was made ready for production at Herriman High School, said Sandy Riesgraf, spokeswoman for the Jordan School District.
The American jukebox musical borrows from Presley’s songbook and puts a modern twist on William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”Some think school administrators folded too easily.
“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.”
It wasn’t the first time some Utah parents put an end to a school drama. In August, the family values group Eagle Forum got Jordan School District administrators to cancel a production of “Dead Man Walking,” a play about a Catholic nun who counsels a death-row inmate in Louisiana.
“Dead Man Walking” was scratched even though administrators said much of its profanity had been stripped from the script.
The unidentified parent who got all hot and bothered over “All Shook Up” alerted officials to parts of the script that were deemed offensive.
“We want our drama to be a great experience not just for our students but the theater-goers. We don’t want to offend anyone,” Riesgraf said Wednesday. “What was communicated to us, they were upset with sexually explicit language and some other aspects of the play — what they deemed cross-dressing.”
The backlash over “Dead Man Walking” prompted policy changes that allowed administrators to quickly eliminate “All Shook Up” from production.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. Riesgraf said another drama yet to be selected will replace it.
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