KOBE (Kyodo) The Takarazuka Music School announced Monday that 40 girls passed its highly competitive entrance exam to receive training to become a member of the famous all-female acting troupe.

"I'll do my best to become a star," said Fumiko Marubashi, 18, a Saitama resident who passed the exam, which she had taken for the fourth time.

"I couldn't believe my eyes because I didn't expect to pass. I want to be an actress who can give joy to the audience," said Aya Takakura, 15, from Fukuoka Prefecture, the oldest daughter of Aya Tsukushino, a Takarazuka Revue actress playing female roles.

The school in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, did not conduct dancing and singing tests in the first screening this year as it tried to look for "a diamond in the rough." Due to the change, 1,600 girls took the exam, up 252 from last year. The competition was 28 to 1 this year to enter the school.

The successful candidates will be trained in singing and ballet for two years.