Decision reversed: Herriman High will put on 'All Shook Up'
Herriman High students will be able to perform the musical "All Shook Up," as long as they cut an Elvis Presley song deemed too risquÃ© for community standards.
Jordan School District officials said Thursday the controversial song is not "All Shook Up," as media have been reporting across the globe, but declined to name the offending song in the production.
It could be any number of Presley standards used in the musical, including "Don't Be Cruel" or "Love Me Tender."
The flap, which threw the Utah story into the international spotlight on Wednesday with publications as far away as New Zealand reporting on the controversy, started when Herriman High canceled a high school production of "All Shook Up." The play is described as a 1950's jukebox musical, using songs made popular by Elvis Presley and plotlines used by William Shakespeare.
One community member complained the musical violated the district's new drama policy, district officials said.
"All Shook Up" was performed in 2010 in a neighboring 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.
On Thursday, Jordan officials reversed direction, saying "All Shook Up" could be performed after all because they discovered it could be altered to fit "community standards."
What are those Herriman standards?
"One song will be eliminated and a couple scenes will be rewritten," said Steve Dunham, a district spokesman. "I don't know the exact [song]. It's not the song 'All Shook Up.' "
The musical uses a common plot device from Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," one involving mistaken identity, said Jim Hoare, director of licensing at Theatrical Rights Worldwide in New York City.
He said "All Shook Up" has been performed more than 900 times since 2007.
"I haven't ever received a complaint," Hoare said. "[The musical's] intent is to bring joy. Its intent is not to promote anything other than laughter."
The Jordan School Board revised its policy on drama productions in August, shortly after the conservative Utah Eagle Forum condemned students performing "Dead Man Walking" at Bingham High. The group said in a statement the play was filled with profanity, sexual language, racial slurs, political bias and "inappropriate use of biblical teachings."
Gayle Ruzicka of Utah Eagle Forum said the group did not complain about "All Shook Up," but nonetheless, she applauded the effort to censor what could be seen as offensive material to some.
"I'm hoping schools will start taking a closer look at these drama departments," Ruzicka said. "You have young people performing, singing songs, with inappropriate language."
In its revised policy, parents have to sign consent forms before their students may participate in plays. Also, more parents will serve on the school and district committees that select which plays to produce. Herriman High's production of "All Shook Up" had been approved under the old policy, but it does not fit under the new one.
Herriman High students will perform the revised version of "All Shook Up" on Feb. 27-28 and March 1-2.
Playwright and Tony Award winner Joe Dipietro talked about the origins of "All Shook Up" on the Theatrical Rights Worldwide website: "The bottom line with Elvis' music is that it makes a lot of people very happy, even 50 years after it was recorded. And I thought, what other type of entertainment form does that? And that's when I came up with the Shakespeare comedies, which are very much about love and finding your joy, marriage, passion and all the good stuff of life. That combination was, I thought, potent and a lot of fun."
Brighton High performed "All Shook Up"
Jordan School District officials canceled a Herriman High production of "All Shook Up," but reversed that decision after learning an Elvis Presley song could be cut to fit "community standards." The musical was performed in 2010 at Brighton High. Check out the performance: youtube.com/watch?v=54_dmWwJOEc