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Why Elvis Presley play 'All Shook Up' was too racy for Utah

StaffThe Christian Science Monitor

The Utah school district that canceled a production of "All Shook Up" for being too sexually explicit, reversed its decision Thursday evening.

The show will go on as scheduled.

What happened? Administrators at Herriman High School got permission from the copyright holders of the Elvis Presley musical to drop one song and make edits to the dialogue in some of the scenes.

"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," according to the Associated Press.

School and district officials won't reveal which song was cut, but told the Salt Lake Tribune that it was not the title song "All Shook Up."

The Tribune also noted that "All Shook Up" was performed in 2010 in a neighboring Utah school district at Brighton High, evidently without complaints. It also has been performed at other Utah high schools located in conservative communities: Clearfield, Bountiful, Orem, Altamont, and Stansbury high schools.

The Christian Science Monitor reported Thursday:

While the play had been approved and rehearsals began in September, a parent complained during the Christmas break that the play was not in compliance with the newly revised drama production guidelines established by the Jordan school board in August. Last year, the school district received complaints about the content of a Bingham (Utah) High School production of "Dead Man Walking" from the Utah Eagle Forum, a conservative lobbying group. The school board responded by adding more parental oversight to the process of selecting plays.

"The number of parent positions on drama production committees was increased to four at the school level and five at the district level, district spokeswoman Sandra Riesgraf said. Students must also have signed parental permission slips to participate, and drama teachers must submit a form to the district two months before a performance for plays that are not on a district-approved list," according to the Deseret News.

The 2005 Broadway musical, "All Shook Up," featuring Elvis Presley music, is loosely based on William Shakespeare's 1602 play "Twelfth Night."

The musical was performed at the nearby Orem, Utah, SERA Center in July. Here's the description of the production from the SCERA Center website: "The story is all new. The music is all Elvis. In a small Midwest town in the 1950s, Natalie dreams of riding off on her motorbike to find the man of her dreams. Inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley, this jukebox musical comedy has a leather-jacketed, guitar-playing roustabout who changes everything and everyone he meets in this hip-swiveling, lip-curling fantasy that’ll have you jumpin’ out of your blue suede shoes with a string of Elvis classics including ‘Jailhouse Rock,’ ‘Don’t Be Cruel,’ and ‘Love Me Tender.’ "