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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Suspicious minds change over Elvis

Published 04/01/2013 | 02:30

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Elvis drama All Shook Up was cancelled at Herriman High School in Utah because it was deemed too sexy

School chiefs have reversed a decision to ban a musical featuring Elvis Presley songs that was deemed too sexy.

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A parent had complained about the drama All Shook Up, which prompted the decision to cancel the show at Herriman High School in Utah.

But the decision was reversed on Thursday night by administrators at the high school south of Salt Lake City, who received permission from the copyright owners of All Shook Up to edit some of The King's songs and make scene changes in the American jukebox musical that borrows from 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 parents said the school gave in 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 theatre fellow at the University of Utah. "There's a misunderstanding about the plot of the play," Ms Green-Rogers said. "It happens a lot in theatre. 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," Ms Green-Rogers said. "The audience knows it's not a homosexual relationship."

Nonetheless, Herriman High School will make some scene changes to the musical version of the Shakespeare play. "We weren't asking for a lot. It will not change the intent of the play. They gave us their blessing," Ms Riesgraf said of the musical's producers.

The production is back on for a February run.

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