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Star of local community theater accepted to prestigious academy in New York

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— Anyone who has seen a play in Steamboat Springs in the last couple of years most likely saw Aly Matthews on the stage.

Since she first appeared in "Cabaret" in April 2001, Matthews has been in all but one community theater production in Steamboat Springs. From major roles to supporting characters, she also has had the ability to shine on the stage.

With the experience under her belt, the 20-year-old actor is taking her talents to Manhattan to study theater.

Last winter, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy accepted her to its two-year conservatory program on the upper west side of Manhattan.

"I was really pretty surprised when I was accepted," she said.

The AMDA produces artists with a triple threat singing, dancing and acting. For more than 35 years it's prepared actors for stage and screen careers. Matthews said the auditions were rigorous and admitted she wasn't expecting to get in.

When the acceptance letter came, she didn't know how to feel, even though it would be a big step in obtaining some of her goals.

"I sort of had mixed feelings. I have made all these great connections here," Matthews said.

A big reason she appeared on stage so often in Steamboat was the people in the theater community.

"They were the catalysts in getting me into theater here," she said. "They really gave me a support system."

They also were her friends, allowing her to set some roots in Steamboat. Matthews spent much of her life moving to various places with her family. She eventually ended up in Houston, where she graduated high school two years early. Less than a year later, she decided to come to Steamboat Springs, but it wasn't her first trip to the Yampa Valley. Her aunt Jo Stanko lives on a ranch outside of the city, and Matthews also spent a couple of summers at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Camp.

But this trip to the valley was meant to provide time for her to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. She took Emergency Medical Technician courses at Colorado Mountain College but didn't get passionately involved in the profession. All along, she was performing in community theater, making friends and setting roots in Steamboat.

Matthews is excited and a bit nervous about living in Manhattan, but she knows it will help her reach some of her acting goals.

"I'd like to get a couple big productions under my belt," she said.

However, she is cautious about looking too far ahead.

"I'm really just looking at concentrating on the next two years," Matthews said.

One thing is for certain: Matthews said she would come back to Steamboat to visit as much as she can.

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