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NOLA Project: Finer Noble Gases and White Bitch 

The NOLA Project and Marigny Theatre merge two artistic camps

Finer Noble Gases

8 p.m. Fri.-Sun., Oct. 9-11; through Oct. 25

Marigny Theatre, 1030 Marigny St., 218-8559; www.nolaproject.com

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click to enlarge Adam Rapp's Finer Noble Gases delves into the rock 'n' roll - lifestyle backstage
  • Adam Rapp's Finer Noble Gases delves into the rock 'n' roll lifestyle backstage

It's common practice for plays to open for plays and for bands to open for bands. Why not a play opening for a band? That's the cross-pollinating premise behind the NOLA Project's latest endeavor at the Marigny Theatre, where Adam Rapp's dark comedy Finer Noble Gases will serve as Act I in a unique double feature with a series of rock concerts.

  "It's about a rock band," says Richard Alexander Pomes, a NOLA Project promoter who is producing the show in conjunction with the New Orleans Indie Rock Collective. "And it's a short play, really only a one-act. We thought, why don't we add a concert? It would be great if the play was the opener and the band was the headliner."

  Thus, Pomes says, on Friday, when the local electronic artist White Bitch is beginning his set at the AllWays Lounge, much of the audience might still be streaming in from the adjoining playhouse. "[They] get there at 8 o'clock, they see a play, and at the end of the play, the actors walk off the stage and lead the audience into the bar. As they enter the bar, the concert is starting."

  That bifurcated design is no accident, according to Dennis Monn, talent buyer for both rooms. The NOLA Project's rock/theater hybrid is in step with a concept Monn has been developing since February, when he turned the front room, formerly the gay bar Cowpokes, into a libation lobby and a destination for alternative music.

  "My main objective is trying to incorporate music in the lounge and the theater shows in a way that kind of attracts a newer, younger audience to the theater," Monn says. "In a lot of cities — and a lot of places in New Orleans — theater is a very traditional genre that attracts a certain class and age of patrons. But I don't think it necessarily has to be like that. They just haven't been targeted."

  Working with the Indie Rock Collective, for whom he also does promotions, Pomes secured emerging rock and experimental artists, from pop group Generationals to string-picker Loren Murrell and audiovisual noisenik Pumpkin (featuring Gambit editorial assistant Alex Woodward). "I've always tried to come up with ways to combine the worlds of theater and music," Pomes says. "Actors and musicians are always competing for the same audiences. It makes a lot of sense to just combine those two worlds."

  They've commingled before: February's Taste, another NOLA Project production at the Marigny Theatre, sported a soundtrack with Theresa Andersson, among others. But never to the explicit degree of Finer Noble Gases, which promises three newfangled weekends of meta musical theater. Following the Saturday show and Generationals gig, sissy bounce rapper Katey Red will bring yet a third sect into the mash-up.

  "It's a great combo," Monn says, "and I feel like if you offer up things that aren't totally antiquated and too traditional ..." He stops, choosing a different track. "I'm trying to practice discretion. I have the definition on my desk."

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