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What’s on stage this week: Candid Camera, Florida Orchestra, Sleeping Beauty ballet

By Andrew Meacham, Times Performing Arts Critic
Published: December 27, 2017 Updated: January 3, 2018 at 11:59 AM
Peter Funt, whose father Allen launched Candid Camera in 1948 and who started co-hosting the show in the 1980s, brings behind-the-scenes anecdotes about and clips from the grandfather of prank shows to the Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo on Jan. 7, 2018.

SMILE: PETER FUNT

The gags that fueled Candid Camera never get old. That car that heads straight for a police officer, then splits in half and drives around him. The classy New York restaurant that charged top dollar for an "exiguous steak," then explained to outraged patrons that "exiguous" means very small. Other ploys were less ha-ha and borderline disturbing. In a famous 1963 episode, federal "authorities" turned back traffic at the Delaware border, telling drivers from Pennsylvania that "the state is closed." Most motorists fell for it.

Peter Funt was an infant in 1948 when his father, Allen, launched Candid Camera, which set a standard in pranking which, in some ways, has never been topped. He started co-hosting the show in the 1980s, then took over hosting in 1993 after Allen Funt’s stroke. Incarnations of the show have aired on several networks (including a current run on TV Land) in each decade since it first aired. Peter Funt is touring the country now with a montage of clips, observational humor and behind-the-scenes anecdotes that show how little human gullibility has changed.

"I worried briefly that people are now so tech-savvy that some of our props and fake setups wouldn’t be believed," Funt wrote in 2014. "Instead, we found that the omnipresence of technology has reached a point where people will now accept almost anything."

Recently minted stunts include an "untanning booth" and a requirement by a New York food store that customers paying with a credit card show three forms of photo ID. 2 p.m. Sunday at the Central Park Performing Arts Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. $29.50 advance, $34.50 at the door. (727) 587-6793. largoarts.com.

RUSSIAN BALLET: SLEEPING BEAUTY

All the ingredients that have made past performances of the State Ballet Theatre of Russia a success are back: a Tchaikovsky score, director Nikolay Anokhin and a haunting fairy tale. With Sleeping Beauty, dancers continue a standard established by former Bolshoi Theatre prima ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, an associate of Anokhin’s who founded the State Ballet of Russia. 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $31.50 and up. (727) 893-7832. themahaffey.com.

ON THE AIR: CLASSICAL WSMR

Besides a feted reunion with former music director Jahja Ling (click here to read more), Friday’s Florida Orchestra concert includes an announcement of the University of South Florida student who has won a piano competition, held by the USF music school. Besides a $2,500 cash prize, the announced winner will be recognized from the stage and perform at a VIP reception after the concert. Ticket sales benefit Classical WSMR- FM 89.1, part of WUSF Public Media. 8 p.m. Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $42.75 and up. A post-show reception starts at 10 p.m. and costs an additional $75. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

TAKE IT BLACK: COFFEE CONCERT

The title of the coffee concert, Musicians in the Spotlight, reflects the extent to which the Florida Orchestra and conductor Stuart Malina plan to put individual talent on display. To get an idea how, look no further than the selections. Rossini’s William Tell Overture includes solos for flute, trombone and piano. Prokofiev wrote Peter and the Wolf with characters represented by instruments, from the oboe as the duck to a wolf played by three horns and a grandfatherly bassoon. Then there’s that lengthy clarinet solo in Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2. 11 a.m. Jan. 10 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, and 11 a.m. Jan. 11 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. $24-$42. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org.

EMERGING TALENT: PIANO

Catch the Rebecca Penneys Friends of Piano concert for what could be a glimpse at major names in the not-too-distant future. The nonprofit crowns its five-day winter seminar for exceptional pianists ready to launch their careers. Pianists JeeHae Ahn, Sung Soo Cho, Hanbo Ma, Ji Eun Park and E-Na Song have trained with masters in China, South Korea and the United States and are wrapping up graduate degrees. 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Petersburg College’s music center, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 341-4360. rebeccapenneyspianofestival.org.