Unlikely Theatre Partnership Flourishes


Notre Dame High School performed “The Man Who Came to Dinner” this fall with the help of several WHHS students.

If you were to look up “rivalry” in the dictionary, you would find a picture of Notre Dame High School and West Haven High School. The two schools are fierce competitors when it comes to sports. However, it’s a different story in theatre.

The two schools’ theatre programs became close in 2019, when WHHS freshman Cheyenne Sebas was invited to perform at Notre Dame-West Haven.

“Theatre is very much a family and so to be able to have two separate safe spaces without feeling as though I’m walking on eggshells with either of them just because of a sports rivalry is nice,” Sebas said about the partnership.

Notre Dame’s theatre director Casey LaMonaca said the partnership has been flourishing.

“Over the last five years, Notre Dame Theater has had an increasing connection to West Haven High School,” Mrs. LaMonaca said. “Actresses and members of crew have worked on Notre Dame shows in the fall and winter seasons, while still being able to participate in WHHS productions as well.”

The directors knew if they were going to make this work, they had to put the decades’ old rivalry aside for the well-being of the students.

The partnership has lasted and expanded to this day. Now anyone from Notre Dame-West Haven, Sacred Heart Academy, WHHS, Lauralton Hall are able to perform or work on the Notre Dame or Sacred Heart Academy performances.

The programs  have done as much as change show dates, so the students are able to do both performances. In 2022, West Haven’s director Tracy Stratton had the original date for the performance of “You Can’t Take it With You” on the same date as Notre Dame’s performance of “The Man Who Came To Dinner.”

Mrs. Stratton, without being asked, changed her dates to the week before so WHHS students could participate in the Notre Dame show.

“Notre Dame theatre and West Haven theatre have mutual students this year, so I decided that this year it would be the best to work with Notre Dame’s director in order to give our students the most opportunity to work in live theatre,” Mrs. Stratton said.

West Haven isn’t the only one who’s made changes and sacrifices.

Mrs. LaMonaca gave up valuable rehearsal time with the WHHS students so they could get through WHHS’ tech week and show days. This year was especially tight due to the shows being back-to-back weekends, resulting in the students going through two tech weeks in a row. Both directors understood and gave the students as much rest as possible.

If you would like to participate in either of these amazing programs please contact the respective directors. Auditions for WHHS’ production of “Grease” are December 20th. Follow @whhstheatreworkshop on Instagram, email Tracy Stratton at Tracy.Stratton@whschools.org or see her in room H123 for more information.

If you would like to audition for Notre Dame’s Production of “Once Upon a Mattress,” auditions are November 28th. Follow @ndwhtheater on Instagram or email Mrs. LaMonaca at clamonaca@notredamehs.com.