January 4, 2013 / 4:27 AM / 6 years ago

Elvis play generates controversy at Utah high school

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Elvis Presley, whose gyrating hips caused an uproar in the 1950s, has become the center of a controversy at a Utah high school where a parent complaint prompted officials to revise a musical featuring the music of the late “king of rock ‘n’ roll.”

The Jordan School District in a Salt Lake City suburb said on Thursday the reworked production of “All Shook Up” at Herriman High School allowed it to avoid canceling the show, as it had announced on Wednesday it was doing.

A parent complained about a song in the play, which appeared on Broadway in 2005, and about scenes the parent contended were too sexually suggestive, said Steven Dunham, a spokesman for the school district. Dunham said he did not know the name of the song in question.

School officials first thought the copyright on the musical, by playwright Joe DiPietro, would prevent them from making changes, which is why they canceled it, Dunham said. School officials have since worked it out with the publisher of the musical.

“They agreed to allow us to make the changes necessary to meet community standards,” he said. “We said, ‘Great, this is what we wanted all along.’”

A cross-dressing element in the musical will remain in the production to be staged next month at Herriman High School, which is about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City.

“All Shook Up” features the music of Presley and a story based on William Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night.”

Presley, who died in 1977 after a career as one of America’s biggest music stars, was a controversial figure when he first appeared on national television in 1956 and upset critics with the wild gyrations of his hips.

He earned the nickname “Elvis the pelvis” by exciting young fans and raising eyebrows among their parents with his suggestive dance moves.

Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Cooney

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