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A conversation with Volta…  
We spoke to Liv Wakem, who plays Volta in the New Zealand tour of Starlight Express.
Liv Wakem as Volta in Starlight Express NZ Tour 2009

As Starlight Express skates away to Auckland, Liv Wakem – originally from Christchurch, where the show recently finished a fantastic week’s run – talked to us about what it’s like being on tour, her ideal role, and how many blisters she got in skate school…

How long have you been in the show?
About 3 months.

How was skate school?
Amazing! It’s crazy to see everybody’s progress. We all started out unable to stand up, and now we’re performing on skates!

Any interesting stories?
Not too many stories…if you exclude the time I fell off the stage onto one of the boys – and he was then in a sling for three days!

What are you like on your roller skates now?

Fairly comfortable, but we’re always working to get better.

Have you experienced any skating-related injuries?
Nothing too serious, but I strained a hamstring at one point. And had MANY MANY blisters.

How do you get about offstage during the show – do you keep your skates on?


Have you ever had any disasters onstage – skating-related or otherwise?
Nothing I’d classify as disastrous, but I have had a fall or two. But we bounce straight back up.

What is your favourite song in the show?

“Only He”

What do you like most and least about performing this role?
Volta is a fun character. I love being able to play around with the other three components, and the aggression of the character. It would be nice to play a more feminine role though.

What do you like most and least about being on tour?
I love going to new places and seeing the country, but I do miss my family…and I wish someone would fold my clothes each time I move.

What location would you most like to perform in, if you could go on tour anywhere in the world?

I would love to perform in Dubai.

How do you typically prepare for a performance? Do you have any rituals?

The make-up and warm-ups take quite a while, but we couldn’t go on without a little interpretive dancing in our unitards.

Do you get nervous before a performance?
Not overly nervous…depending on who is in the audience.

Had you seen Starlight Express before appearing in the show?


Was appearing in the show a personal ambition for you?
Not this particular show, but it’s been a lot more fun than I could have imagined.

What inspired you to pursue a career in musical theatre?
McDonald’s Young Entertainers. I loved the TV show and so I started performing. I love musical theatre because it combines dance and singing.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Michael Ralph – a fellow student who inspired me to make a career out of performance.

What would your dream role be?

Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical. Hee hee!

How would you spend your perfect day off?

Sleeping in, floating on a li-lo (inflatable bed/raft) in the ocean, and eating icecream.

What would your ambitions be after appearing in Starlight Express?
I would just like to be able to have constant work all around the world. There are a few musicals I really want to be in before my time is up, such as Wicked and Legally Blonde, but as long as I’m performing I’ll be happy – (cheesy, I know)!

Posted on: 17th July 2009

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