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Field trips canceled after mix-up

Only one school - Guardian Angel Primary in Clearwater - didn't get the news about a play's cancellation when the cast didn't show up.

By KELLY RYAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 7, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- About 1,800 students and chaperones from Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties thought they were taking a field trip Tuesday morning to see a production of a popular children's story, Come Back, Amelia Bedelia.

But the cast was a no show.

Workers at the Mahaffey Theater, where the performance was scheduled, started calling public, private and home schools about 9 a.m. to say the performance was canceled. They caught almost everyone -- even some schools that were en route.

The only school not to get the news, Guardian Angel Primary School in Clearwater, showed up with 50 students in a caravan of 10 cars. Jill Vines, the Mahaffey's education and outreach coordinator, went outside to deliver the bad news.

Needless to say, the students and their chaperones were disappointed.

"It's so disheartening to us," said Jeff Foreman, general manager of the Bayfront Center. "These kids were really looking forward to the show. We were so excited to get it."

Vines said everyone who purchased tickets, which cost $4 apiece, will get a full refund. She said the performance company, Omaha Theater Company for Young People, also has agreed to reimburse schools for transportation costs they incurred.

"I want everybody to be compensated for everything," Vines said. "It's just a shame."

Up until Tuesday morning, the Mahaffey Theater staff thought the show would go on.

The staff arrived at 6 a.m. to open the theater and await the performers, who were to arrive around 7. But they never did. And calls to the Theater Company, in Nebraska, reached answering machines.

About 9 a.m., Vines said, the theater decided to cancel the performance. Even if the performers had arrived, she worried that the program's quality had already been compromised. She found out later in the day that there had been a scheduling mix-up between the theater company and the management company, which schedules performances. A call to the theater company was not returned.

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