CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sallie Daugherty made her stage debut in 1973 with Children's Theatre of Charleston.
She's been hooked on community theater ever since.
"I didn't realize it until somebody pointed it out, but I was in a Children's Theatre production with Kathy Mattea," said Daugherty, 52.
Over the years, Daugherty has performed with Children's Theatre, Kanawha Players and the Charleston Light Opera Guild. She became heavily involved in the latter in the 1990s, when she came back to the area after college.
"I like the group activity," said Daugherty. "I absolutely love music, and I like the idea of taking something from a book and turning it into a living, breathing performance."
Go to any decent-sized city, and chances are you'll find at least one community theater group. Big or small, with budgets that range from shoestring to ample, what such groups tend to have in common is a sense of camaraderie, friendship and family.
"It's really like that," said Daugherty. "I know high school kids and college kids I'd never have any kind of chance of meeting [unless it were through theater]."
Many community theater performers come together for show after show over the years. Being together for hours every night for a month or more, performers get to know one another, strike up friendships, and follow one another through life.
"You watch kids be born and grow up," Daugherty said. Theater people share each others' weddings, births and funerals.
"You celebrate those kind of family things," she said.