The Saraton Theatre is turned blood red as the music from thrillers such as Psycho was played at the Afternoon at the Proms concert
The Saraton Theatre is turned blood red as the music from thrillers such as Psycho was played at the Afternoon at the Proms concert Adam Hourigan Photography

Visual thrills to sound of Saraton's music

THE sound of strings shriek from the speaker, and the walls of the Saraton theatre turn blood red.

There's nothing on the big screen, but the audience squirm in their seat, each with an image from the classic Hitchcock thriller Psycho firmly in their mind.

And while it wasn't all thrillers, chillers and killers from stage, the annual Jacaranda Afternoon at the Proms performance channelled the great music of stage and screen to a packed Saraton theatre.


And for MC Nicholas Hammond, who played character Friedrich von Trapp in one of the most recognisable movie musicals of all time The Sound Of Music, the music provides the emotion of a scene.

"As an actor there are an awful lot of scenes you do that would be dead in the water without the music," he said.

"So when the girl is going down to the basement in the dark, and you're sitting there terrified, you don't realise what's really terrifying you at the time is the music."

Mr Hammond helped the Clarence Valley Orchestra and chorus play to a sold out theatre a wide range of movie soundtrack excerpts ranging from Ben Hur, and the Magnificent Seven, to modern musical numbers including a piece from the Sister Act series, whose composer Miles Goodman was a friend of Mr Hammond.

"Miles did such a wonderful job with the music for both the Sister Act movies, as well as the music from the Footloose music, which you still hear getting played on the radio today - they're pop standards," he said.

"And Miles used to say to me the perfect musical score is when the audience comes out, and when you ask them what they thought of the music they say 'What music?' - because it's so well integrated into the scene.

And as fans young and old of the Sound of Music came to Mr Hammond after the performance, he said he finds its astonishing how the movie lives on more than 50 years later.

"It is astonishing and amazes all of use who were in it is how much the new generations keep enjoying it," he said." I even had a young girl who tells me she watches it all the time, and how many 50 year old movies do young kids watch now?"

And while Mr Hammond says the music has a tremendous part to play in that, he attributes the overall success to a central figure.

"Julie Andrews - that's the secret. I think if they had anyone else playing Maria, I don't think we'd be talking about the film 50 years later."

And in traditional Proms style, after the second encore, Mr Hammond joined the orchestra in a quick rendition of "Do-re-mi" from his movie, telling the audience that "he'd sing if you do."

And sing they did, waving flags and standing in the aisles to applaud at the end.

"It's fantastic, and this place to deserves to be filled when all of these people are putting in the time and effort to present it," he said. "For a lot of people here they may have never sat in a theatre to hear live orchestral music and they find out it's really fun and plants the seed for this style of performance.

And when asked to choose a favourite piece of movie music, Mr Hammond initially says that the Music Man score is the "perfect musical score," but can't help going back to his own movie.

"I have to say there is one song from the Sound of Music called Something Good which is a really profound song," he remembers.

"I can never hear it without being profoundly touched by it."