A horror shoulder injury has forced Mike Edward to hang up his abs.

The hunky Kiwi actor - who has starred in TV shows Shortland Street, Nothing Trivial, The Strip and Spartacus, and Kiwi horror comedy I Survived the Zombie Holocaust - is set to tread the boards during a cirque-cabaret season of Ithaca at Auckland's Q Theatre.

But the screen star won't be baring his famous abs, being forced to quit aerial circus performance after suffering a horror shoulder injury - which shredded tendons - last year.

He will be fully clothed, and have his feet on the ground, when Ithaca premieres on November 26.

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Edward, aged 40, said the decision to quit his topless cirque routines was forced on him after a bleak diagnosis from specialists.

"The words they used to describe it [after an MRI] was macerated and hard to identify so that is never a good description of a tendon," Edward said.

"I had injured it a long time ago and then just kept working through it. I had just been continuing work to the point where when the results came in, the surgeon was literally like 'Stop, don't do anything anymore'. It was that sudden".

Edward had proudly displayed off his ripped torso in some of his major acting roles, including that of Zac Smith on Shortland Street; one of show's most evil characters in the soap's 23-year history.

He is also a widely-respected cirque performer, often teaming up with his wife and actress Eve Gordon (whose TV acting credits include Shortland Street and The Almighty Johnsons) in numerous cirque productions. The pair own cirque company The Dust Palace.

Having no choice in the decision to stop performing cirque shows had made the diagnosis easier to stomach.

"When you are trying to work through an injury or rehab it, it is very stressful," Edward said.

"To have the choice taken away from you, you suddenly don't have to fight anymore ... which is in some ways relaxing. There was no making it better."

His real concern was how it could impact on Gordon's career.

"Why I pushed through [the injury] so much is because I knew that if I stopped, most of my work was partner work with Eve, I would be calling time on her as well," he said.

But that was until they met gymnast and fellow performer Carlin Brown who has been hired to replace Edward in his duo act with Gordon; including in cirque performances during Ithaca.

Edward described Brown as "built like a God".

While Edward's abs may have been put away, his face is set to continue gracing our TV screens, starring in TV2's new drama series Filthy Rich which premieres early next year.