Canada Hickey, 21, is one step closer to achieving her dream of being a West End star after a simple Google search led her to Arts Educational Schools (ArtsEd) a leading performing arts school in London.

The former Waikanae resident and Paraparaumu College student has made it into the ArtsEd musical theatre programme which focuses on all three performing disciplines — singing, dancing and acting.

Every year the school receives more than 2000 applications from around the world and accepts around 60 people into their musical theatre course which Canada will begin in September.

After completing a written application Canada had to go all the way to London to audition in person.

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"On the day of my audition I would estimate there being over 100 people there in the morning, which was then cut down to about 35 for the afternoon recall session."

The school places an equal emphasis on singing, dancing and acting in order to turn its students into 'triple threats'.

"I really love almost every aspect of performance.

"I love working closely with a wide range of people, studying scripts, delving into different characters, and learning new songs.

"What I love most of all is being up on stage and feeling the exhilaration of portraying a well written piece of material live to a captive audience.

"Anything could go wrong but that is part of the fun."

Canada began performing at the age of 13 when she started at Paraparaumu College but looking back at home videos recently, Canada's mother Lynne Hickey said she had always been a performer.

"It was funny when we recently watched our home videos of the girls at a very young age I realised that Canada has always been a performer.

"She had her toy microphones, dress up clothes and music and was always singing, dancing and performing."

Throughout college Canada became involved in performing arts both inside and outside of school, taking part in numerous musicals, competitions and productions.

She credits her teachers Ellen Barrett and Alicia Kindell for helping her develop her technical skills and giving her numerous performance opportunities.

They have continued to play an important role in her journey with Canada continuing lessons with Ellen this year in order to prepare audition songs and they were also some of the first people she was in touch with after finding out that she had successfully made it into ArtsEd.

"We are so proud of everything that Canada has achieved and she is such an inspiration," Alicia said.

"Her dedication and hard work is incredible and she was an absolute dream student."

Moving to London, Canada will undoubtedly face many challenges on top of more than 300 hours of dance, 125 hours of singing and 180 hours of acting plus technique and fitness requirements for the programme.

"I have lived away from home before but I came home most weekends when I did a year at Victoria University, so it will be quite different being on the opposite side of the world."

Canada is lucky enough to have her younger sister Caitlin, 16, already living in London training at the English National Ballet School and is looking forward to living with her again.

"Both Canada and Caitlin had incredible determination and talent and we always felt that we should see how far their passion could take them," Lynne said.

"It has been totally worth all of the sacrifices with these incredible opportunities ahead of them in London."

Canada's study will take around four years which will include many performance opportunities and chances to make connections in the wider performance industry, starting with the school's president, Andrew Lloyd Webber.