The curtain has come down on Climate Change: The Musical and reviews of the taxpayer-funded play about global warming are downright icy.
The play, which is actually entitled "The Great Immensity," and was produced by Brooklyn-based theater company The Civilians, Inc. with a $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, ended its run early amid a storm of criticism from reviewers and lawmakers alike. It opened a year late, reached just five percent of its anticipated audience and likely fell short of its ambitious goal of informing a new generation about the perceived dangers of man-caused climate change.
Plus, it apparently wasn't very good.
“Despite fine performances, the musical mystery tour is an uneasy mix of fact and credulity-stretching fiction. It’s neither flora nor fauna,” New York Daily News reviewer Joe Dziemianowicz wrote in a review at the time. “[The] songs — whether about a doomed passenger pigeon or storm-wrecked towns — feel shoehorned in and not, pardon the pun, organic.”
The play, which featured songs and video exploring Americans’ relationships to the environment, opened in New York in April with a three-week run before going on a national tour that was supposed to attract 75,000 patrons. But it stalled after a single production in Kansas City, falling short of the lofty goals outlined in a grant proposal. It was envisioned as a chance to create "an experience that would be part investigative journalism and part inventive theater,” help the public "better appreciate how science studies the Earth’s biosphere” and increase “public awareness, knowledge and engagement with science-related societal issues.”
According to a plot description on the theater company’s website, "The Great Immensity" focuses on a woman named Phyllis as she tries to track down a friend who disappeared while filming an assignment for a nature show on a tropical island. During her search, she also uncovers a devious plot surrounding an international climate summit in Auckland, New Zealand.
The description touts the play as “a thrilling and timely production” with “a highly theatrical look into one of the most vital questions of our time: How can we change ourselves and our society in time to solve the enormous environmental challenges that confront us?”
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, said the dramatic debacle was a waste of public money.
“There is no doubt that the Great Immensity was a great mistake,” Smith told FoxNews.com. “The NSF used taxpayer dollars to underwrite political advocacy dressed up as a musical. And the project clearly failed to achieve any of its objectives.”
In a statement to FoxNews.com, the NSF said it is too soon to tell if the grant funds were wasted.
“This particular project just concluded in August and the final report has not yet been submitted to NSF,” the statement said. “Final reports are due to NSF within 90 days following expiration of the grant. The final report will contain information about project outcomes, impacts and other data.”
But Smith and others in Congress said the foundation owes an explanation to lawmakers - and taxpayers.
“The NSF has offered no comment, neither a defense of the project nor an acknowledgement that funding was a waste of money,” Smith said. “The NSF must be held accountable for how they choose to spend taxpayer dollars.”
Other reviews of the play were similarly dismal.
"Even the best adventurers can wander off course, and the Civilians do so on a global scale in The Great Immensity,” read a review from Time Out New York. “The inventive troupe’s latest effort is all over the map… It’s not easy preaching green.”
The Civilians, Inc. did not return requests for comment.
FoxNews.com first reported on the House Committee’s dismay over the grant program back in March. Smith had also questioned the validity of other grants from the NSF including; $200,000 towards a three-year study of the Bronze Age, Another $50,000 towards the survey of archived lawsuits from 17th century Peru and $20,000 for a study on the causes of stress in Bolivia.
“All government employees and their agency heads need to remember they are accountable to the American taxpayer who pays their salary and funds their projects,” Smith said at a March hearing.