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Measure Cabaret Song #3: Naughty Nuns


Ensemble members Amber Mayberry and Gracie Terzian in the Shakespeare Theatre Company production of 'Measure for Measure.' Photo by Scott Suchman.

Measure for Measure composer Adam Wernick discusses the creation of the cabaret preshow. Read the introductory post.

“I had to figure out what made a striptease,” Wernick says,before hastening to add, “musically speaking, of course. It typically consists of a  particular kind of rhythmic and harmonic language, that boom-cha-cha feel. There’s a lot of drums, a lot of accents, horns wailing. Melodically, it couldn’t have the jauntiness of Schoolgirls or the soaring, aching quality of Immer Wieder.”

The cabaret’s most outré number, in which two actresses dressed as nuns perform a taboo-busting strip, turned out to have, Wernick says, “a bluesy, sinuous, chromatic quality, with a melody one could imagine being played on a saxophone. Harmonically, these songs tend to use a lot of the same conventions as you would find in Dixieland music. They rarely go to minor chords. Instead, there’s a constant lift, a constant  build of energy.

“I had to figure out a showbizzy way of building the song to a climax,” Wernick says, again adding “musically speaking. I did it partly by using the age-old trick of modulating up into a new key.” The number ends in a flurry of bodies and dancing. He smiles devilishly, “It’s fun.”

Song #3: Naughty Nuns (Wimples to the Wall)

Forgive me father, please, I pray
For all the sins that I’ve hidden away
Expose me as I am
A wicked, wanton, unworthy daughter.
Vergib mir Vater, ich bitte Dich
Für alle Sünden in meinem Herzen,
Erkenne mich als was ich bin:
Eine schlechte, böse Tochter und Dirne.
Oh, strip away this sheepish guise
Behold the wolf and my wolverine wiles.
’Cos I’m no lamb of God
(But a) tender, juicy whole leg of mutton.
Oh, nimm doch die Verkleidung weg.
Und siehe den schwarzen, gefährlichen Wolf.
Denn ich bin kein göttliches Lamm,
Nur eine zarte, saftige, schöne Lammkeule.
Thou shalt not cover’t up again
And hide thyself from God.
Throw Wimples to the wall.
And kick that habit once and for all.
Du sollst Dich nicht verkleiden, nein!
Auch nicht verstecken vor Gott.
Werfe den Schleier an die Wand,
Und befreie Dich von diesem Gewand.

Learn about the other songs in the cabaret:

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