The Paisans Club cooked up a spicy holiday show Saturday combining carols with rock, doo-wop – and cannolis on the side.
Put it all together with a half-dozen talented Orlando singers performing before a jam-packed SeaBreeze Recreation Center and you have a Scrooge-proof Christmas blast.
It was labeled “Grease Meets Christmas.” And before the night was over, the Paisans passed out cannolis to everyone.
“This show is a lot of oldies with a smidge of Christmas,” said singer Erik Winger.
Or as Clemenza of “The Godfather” movie might put it: “Leave the oldies and take the cannoli.”
The Paisans were rocking and celebrating all night long, listening to sweet harmony on everything from “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” to “White Christmas.” A few in the audience took the stage to display their talents.
“This is a party that everybody loves,” said ever-ebullient Jerry Vicenti, who, with his wife, Annette, are the unofficial king and queen of the Paisans Club. It boasts nearly 700 members and has a waiting list of about 400, Vicenti said.
“Everybody wants to be in our club because we have such fun and put on great shows,” said Vicenti, who officially is the president of the club.
The singers of this Doo-Wop Rock and Roll Revue – Sara Jones, Ellie Roddy, Shannon Pawlak, Dan Reynolds, John Sparling and Winger – displayed musical knowledge beyond their years.
They opened with a couple of rousing numbers from “Grease”: “You’re The One That I Want” and “Summer Nights,” featuring Reynolds and Roddy. Reynolds took center stage for the lead on “Dancing In the Street” and kept up the frenetic pace with “Build Me Up Buttercup.” He hit the high notes on “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
Pawlak offered some parental advice on “Mama Said” and also sang “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” During that song, she went into the audience for a conversation with a couple of Villagers who have been married more than six decades.
“What’s the secret?” Pawlak asked.
“Always say ‘yes dear,’” cracked Paul Algeri, who first met wife Pat back in high school in New York.
Pat Algeri had another explanation for marital bliss: “You’ve got to have a good sense of humor.”
Three Villages ladies were invited on stage to join the singers for the Supremes’ standard, “Stop In the Name of Love.”
Janet Panzella and Geri Rinaldi were joined by Elizabeth Gualfetti, who said: “I loved being up there. I always wanted to be a singer but never did it until tonight.”
George Zitterell shared that feeling. He joined the guys on stage while singing “Up On the Roof.”
“I was flabbergasted up there,” Zitterell said. “This was my singing debut and my singing retirement, all in the same show. I’m done.”
The six real singers returned to the stage to offer an a cappella take on Christmas songs. The list included: “White Christmas,” “Santa Baby,” “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” and “Run Rudolph Run.”
“This,” said Jerry Vicenti, “is what Christmas is all about.”
Tony Violanti is a veteran journalist and writes for Villages-News.com.