Villages Italian Paisans Club gathering includes chance for Villager to be a Supreme

JoAnn Harrigan became a Supreme. Mary Ann and Vinnie Locascio explained the secret to 61 years of marriage.
And Jerry Vicenti celebrated his 65th birthday with 325 Paisans, three Gigi’s and one wife.

JoAnn Harrigan, center, joins the Gigi's singing the Supremes "Stop In the Name of Love."
JoAnn Harrigan, center, joins the Gigi’s singing the Supremes “Stop In the Name of Love.”

Put it all together and you have just another party for The Villages Italian Paisans Club Sunday evening at Seabreeze Recreation Center.
The Gigi’s – Safia Hudson, Shannon Pawlak and Lauren Anselm – were the main attraction but the youthful, energetic and talented singing trio had plenty of help from the Villagers in the crowd.

Harrigan, like most of the Baby Boomers in the sold out room, grew up a big fan of the Supremes. So, when the Gigi’s got ready to sing “Stop In the Name of Love,” they needed another member on stage.
Before you could say Diana Ross, there was Harrigan taking a lesson in Motown choreography and joining a couple of Gigi’s singing the song.

“It was fun being up there; I always liked the Supremes,” Harrigan said after her debut performance. “I thought the other girls sounded great and I loved being up there with them.”

Vinnie and Mary Ann Locascio talk about their 61-year marriage to singer Shannon Pawlak.
Vinnie and Mary Ann Locascio talk about their 61-year marriage to singer Shannon Pawlak.

Audience participation is a big part of the Gigi’s cabaret-style show. Mary Ann and Vinnie Locascio were sitting near the back of the room and didn’t expect to be involved. But when Shannon Pawlak asked who in the audience was married the longest, the Locascios won the contest. Pawlak left the stage and journeyed to the Locascios’ table.
“You’ve been married 61 years, what’s the secret?” she asked the couple.
“Well, my father told me not to marry him but I did,” explained Mary Ann. “I met him when I was 16 and was 18 when we got married. It turned out great. We love each other.”
But what’s the secret?
“He’s the boss,” Mary Ann said. Vinnie agreed. “I’m the boss,” he said.

Pawlak left the happy couple, went back on stage and belted out “At Last,” for all the husbands and wives in the crowd. One of them was Annette Vicenti. She planned a couple of surprises for her hubby – Birthday Boy Jerry Vicenti.

Early in the show, the Gigi’s called Jerry out of the audience and up on stage. They planted a stool in the middle of the stage and Jerry sat on it as the three ladies serenaded him with the song “My Guy.”
Jerry sat on the stool as cool as a cannoli, as the three young ladies sang and made a fuss over him. Then at the end of the song, came another surprise.

The Gigi's serenade Birthday Boy Jerry Vicenti Sunday at the Italian Paisans Club.
The Gigi’s serenade Birthday Boy Jerry Vicenti Sunday at the Italian Paisans Club.

Safia Hudson led the Paisans Club in a chorus of “Happy Birthday to You.”
“This is an exciting night for me and I want to thank my wife and all of you for making it happen,” Vicenti said. “Tonight’s my birthday but this isn’t about me, it’s about the club and all the great things we do. There are so many nice people in The Villages.”
Annette Vicenti said Jerry doesn’t like being the center of attention. “Jerry likes making things happen and making people happy. That’s what he really cares about. But this was a special birthday and we wanted to do something for him.”
The Gigi’s flashed plenty of entertaining music and dance moves. They were accompanied by pianist Tom Casey, who added punch and musical power to the act.

Sofia Hudson, Lauren Anselm and Shannon Pawlak make up the Gigi's.
Safia Hudson, Lauren Anselm and Shannon Pawlak make up the Gigi’s.

The Gigi’s show covers the sound of girl groups from the 1940s to the present. The set list included such numbers as “It’s In His Kiss,” “Sisters” and “All About That Bass.”
The group displayed its versatility with a clever arrangement of “I Will Survive” and really shined with a thumping version of “Momma Mia.” They also had fun doing a spoof of Garth Brooks’ “Friends In Low Places,” turning the song into a story about visiting a spa.
Safia Hudson is becoming well known in The Villages. She is a classically trained singer, who has performed opera here in the past. Hudson will return in October as a featured performer at The Villages Italian Day celebration.
Hudson showed her serious side on a cover of Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide.” And all the Gigi’s hit the right notes on a rollicking “Boy From New York City.”