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Brief Encounter with ... The Two Most Perfect Things' Margaret Preece

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Margaret Preece is currently performing in four-hander {The Two Most Perfect Things::L229433415} at the Riverside Studios.

She starred as the Mother Abbess alongside Connie Fisher in 2008’s The Sound of Music, performed in Dinnerladies, sang with the English National Opera and has even released her own album.

The show chronicles the peaks and troughs of showbiz masterminds Noel Coward and Ivor Novello, and features over 60 different songs.

What’s your favourite thing about the show?
It’s great to be celebrating the words and music of two such talented writers as Coward and Novello in this show! I don’t think that they have ever been put together in an evening like this before, where their talents and abilities can be seen to complement each other so well. It is a joy for me to be performing this material as I grew up with it.

What were your early experiences of Coward and Novello?
My parents loved music, and were heavily involved with the local music scene in the Midlands where I come from. Ivor Novello’s was always well-represented in their repertoire. My mother and I performed duets of his ‘The Wings of Sleep’ and ‘We’ll Gather Lilacs’ in concerts and at music festivals when I was a teenager.

The cast of The Two Most Perfect Things. Photo: Simon Kane
His songs are so beautifully written. He often wrote for specific singers whose voices he was very familiar with – Mary Ellis, Lizbeth Webb, Vanessa Lee and Olive Gilbert. How thrilling it must have been to have Novello write such glorious melodies especially for you!

What are your favourite Coward and Novello songs?
That’s a difficult one! I love singing Novello’s ‘My Dearest Dear’ in the show and I have a particular fondness for ‘Someday I’ll Find You’, but it is also nice to sing something like Novello’s ‘If Only He’d Looked My Way’, which I had never heard of before – it’s really lovely, and quite different from a lot of his other songs.

How do you think the music has stood the test of time?
I think that well-written material will always survive. I was only last week singing Novello songs in a concert celebrating the life and reign The Queen (Noel Coward’s ‘London Pride’ and ‘Someday I’ll Find You’ as well) because they are an important part of our heritage.

It was all written long before I was born, but still made a great impression on me when I was growing up. It’s not just for people of a “certain age” who may still remember when the shows were first written and performed. I hope people of all ages come along to listen to us and enjoy what we enjoy, even if they are unfamiliar with the music beforehand!

The Two Most Perfect Things continues at the Riverside Studios until 21 July.

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