The show by Cirque Italia did not go on Thursday at the Museum of Science and Industry.
"All performances of Cirque Italia's Act XII have been canceled," said a statement from the Tampa museum just hours before the opening performance. "Cirque Italia has refused to fulfill the insurance requirements specified in the contract, and MOSI will not allow a situation that leaves our guests and the Cirque Italia performers unprotected."
Manuel Rebecchi, who owns the circus, could not be reached for comment.
"They had been telling us they had the insurance coverage, but it turned out they did not have general liability and workers' comp coverage," MOSI spokeswoman Shannon Herbon said. "If a performer fell, they didn't have the insurance to cover an injury."
The Cirque Italia tent, with seating for 1,200, was erected on MOSI property. With a cast of about 20, the show was to feature aerial artists, contortionists, hand balancers, clowns and other performers.
"We were completely ready to have a show tonight, and now we're not," Herbon said late Thursday afternoon.
Several hours later, Herbon phoned to say MOSI was going to give Rebecchi another chance. "We're giving him five days," she said. "If he gets the insurance together, we will go on with the show. Otherwise, it's done."
The decision to shut down the circus was made by museum president Wit Ostrenko and chief operating officer Ralph Bosek. "We were on the phone with (Rebecchi) all day, on and off, and just got the runaround," Herbon said.
Cirque Italia has one previous engagement, in Venice in Southwest Florida, on its resume. Its partnership with MOSI had been heavily promoted, and Act XII — so named because this was the first year of the show — was billed as "Soleil meets Age of Aquarius." There were 34 performances scheduled through Dec. 2. Herbon said advance sales had been "slow," with about 1,500 sold.
Call the museum at (813) 987-6000 for a refund.
John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716.