Elvis Presley musical banned in Utah for being 'sexually explicit'
A Utah school district has banned a high school from performing 'All Shook Up,' an Elvis Presley musical. In 2013, Elvis Presley returns to the list of music deemed worthy of parental censorship.
[UPDATED Jan. 4, 2012: The show will go on! See latest here.]
One parent was "All Shook Up" and once again Elvis Presley's music has been banned.
A Utah school district on Wednesday canceled the upcoming performance of the Herriman High School musical "All Shook Up."
"What was communicated to us, they were upset with sexually explicit language and some other aspects of the play," Sandy Riesgraf, Jordan district spokeswoman, told The Salt Lake Tribune. "What they deemed cross-dressing."
Herriman High parent Jill Fishback said she found nothing offensive about "All Shook Up."
"I’m at a loss," Fishback told the 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."
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 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.’ "
Of course, concerns over the negative influence of Elvis "the Pelvis" on the youth of America date back to the start of The King of Rock 'n' Roll's career.
In 1957, the producers of The Ed Sullivan Show chose to film Elvis only above the waist as the gyration of his hips was considered "too suggestive" at the time.
In the same year, Portland, Ore., disc Jockey Al Priddy of KEX, was fired for violating the radio station's ban against playing Elvis Presley's rendition of "White Christmas," according to the History of Banned Rock and Roll.
After a concert in 1956, the town manager of Corpus Christi, Texas, banned Elvis from ever appearing again, although the rationale seemed based primarily on what could happen rather than what had happened.
Tom Davis apologized for booking Elvis and announced a ban on rock ’n’ roll shows at Memorial Coliseum and other city-owned buildings. Davis provided a list of reasons for his action ... Without providing any evidence to support his claim, Davis nevertheless declared Presley’s show, and others like it, a contributing factor to juvenile delinquency. “I do not want the auditorium or coliseum to be used for that sort of thing,” he concluded, according to the Elvis History Blog.
And, given the climate of the time, it's not too surprising that the Catholic Club in Helena, Ark., also banned Elvis in 1955, when he was just getting started. It was the only venue in town and The Catholic Club, was St. Mary’s parish hall and the Sacred Heart’s school gymnasium.
But it wasn't his music that earned Presley the banishment. Rather, it was a post performance autograph. He reportedly signed the thigh of a teenage girl after he was mobbed for autographs.
Father Gregory Keller reportedly told Presley, “You’re a disgrace to manhood and don’t come back anymore.”
Elvis Presley himself ran afoul of record execs when he tried to get the song "One Night (of Sin)" distributed because it included this chorus:
One night of sin, yeah
Is what I'm now paying for
The things I did and I saw
Would make the earth stand still
But once Presley changed the lyrics in 1957, he was allowed to produce it.
The revised version:
One night with you
Is what I'm now praying for
The things that we two could plan
Would make my dreams come true.
The latest news reports from Utah don't make clear which version of this song was going to be used in the high school musical. But 56 years later, clearly The King continues to court controversy among teens, or at least the parents trying to protect them from sinful influences.