The name Frankie Valli is often associated with one of three things: the unique voice that gave him stardom, the Broadway show Jersey Boys (based on his life), or his band The Four Seasons. He’s a living legend. However, his granddaughter, Olivia Polci, thinks of him simply as “grandpa.”
Polci grew up in Caldwell and is currently a senior at Montclair State University. At 21 and majoring in the Bachelor Of Fine Arts Musical Theatre program, Polci is facing the real world and has plans to move on to Broadway, following the big shoes that her grandfather has laid out for her.
When she graduates in the spring she hopes her grandfather will be in the audience, but she has been reluctant to capitalize on his name to launch her own career.
“I don’t tell people who my grandfather is,” she said. “I want to be known as Olivia, not Frankie Valli’s granddaughter. I’m proud to know that people see me, and they really see me for the performer I am.”
When we spoke earlier this semester, she was acting in a play, Wendy’s Shadow that was playing at the Cutting Room in New York City. Polci will be playing one of the leads, a role she stepped into after a cast member had to drop out. Polci had to learn the whole show within six days. As any normal person would be apprehensive and nervous, Polci shows nothing but sincere gratitude for the opportunity at hand. “It’s cool the fact that I get to learn this show within a week because it’s prepping me for Broadway training” she said.
Polci’s mother has been described as the “dancer of the family,” whereas her father is a drummer and musician. Her brother, Dario, is a college student and is a DJ on the side. Music and performing clearly runs in their blood.
As we sat at Au Bon Pain located on campus, Polci sat comfortably in a purple galactic workout outfit, legs up and relaxed. Her charismatic, carefree attitude helped thaw out our frost bitten noses from the -5 degree weather that day. She was calm and cool, a young woman who knows who she is and has no fear of being herself. As we began to talk her life story unfolded.
Polci’s father, a drummer and musician, got in to working alongside Frankie Valli over 20 years ago. “That’s how he and my mother met,” she says. “My father helped create the drums for Oh What a Night, but when I was born he kind of gave up his rights, and they went all to my grandfather. My dad and my grandpa get along but my dad left to help support and raise a family, which is hard to do in the music business. I kind of ruined everything,” she laughs.
When asked about her own relationship with her grandfather, Polci’s face lit up with a smile. “We talk on the phone all the time, constantly keeping in touch,” she says. “We always know what’s going on in each other’s lives. I just spoke to him three days ago, he was in Texas.” Valli, despite being in his “80 something’s,” has kept busy after all these years. Residing in California, he’s currently touring all over the country and in Europe. “It’s hard to see him when he’s all over the place,” says Polci with a look of slight disappointment.
Polci, who is in the midst of recording her own R&B music, has admitted to singing along side Valli quite a few times. “His style of music is timeless which is super important to focus on as a musician! He wants me to sing in one of his next shows with him. It’s gonna be one of his songs and we do a duet with it. I don’t know the full logistics but that’s some of the ideas that are starting to flow.”
Polci, who has auditioned for the hit Broadway show, Jersey Boys, is currently being looked at for a lead role. “They are looking at me and keeping me in mind, which is cool,” she says. “It’d be awesome to go right from school to Broadway. Once they see a Broadway credit they know that you are familiar with the insane training. 6-8 hours a day rehearsing, plus I’d be honoring my family.”
When asked about her thoughts on the Broadway show and the movie Jersey Boys, Polci was quick to reply, “I loved the Broadway show, I think it’s unique. I think it’s great. It’s honest and that is why people really like it because it’s about real people, and it’s not cheesy ‘Broadway’ type stuff, because I don’t even like that,” she said.”I thought the film was a poor representation of the movie of my grandpa’s life. [My grandpa] likes to keep it professional so he’s gonna say he likes it regardless of what he really thinks. But that’s fine because I think Clint Eastwood did the best he could do with how he wanted to do it”.
Polci, who has worked an incredible amount in the musical theatre program, has been the lead role in almost every Montclair State University play production, singing and performing. Her favorite was Falsettos, for which Valli was in the audience and saw her captivating performance.
“She’s one of the most talented vocalists I’ve ever head,” says Dario of his sister. “Her career is snowballing as she continues to get work in New York. Her success will be determined by how much she wants it.”
Montclair State | New Jersey