Posts Tagged ‘Upbeat Dancers’



June 21, 2013
Dakota P. Productions’ new television show “Upbeat Dancer” debut broadcast is scheduled to air Saturday’s 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm in the new fall lineup on Cox Media Group Orlando, Channel WFTV 9 ABC / WRDQ 27.

Viewers will engage in a compelling mix of Rock & Roll, Pop, Dance, Soul, R&B, Neo-Soul, Hip Hop, Reggae, Gospel, Jazz, Old School and New School music content with the hottest artist’s performing live. Special guest appearances from the hottest artists from around the world performing live via satellite and the Legends from the legendary 60’s and 70’s Upbeat Show.

Based on the original nationally syndicated television show “Upbeat” which aired during the 60’s and 70’s. “Upbeat Dancer” promises to keep up the tradition of clean, wholesome, upbeat entertainment for audiences of all ages.

For more information about “Upbeat Dancer” contact Dakota P. Productions office at 407-438-DAKP (3257) or email us at

The original UPBEAT TV show.

The original UPBEAT TV show.


‘Upbeat Dancer – The Musical’ In Pre-Production

June 4, 2012

A new musical stage production called UPBEAT DANCER – THE MUSICAL is set to enter into pre-production. Based on the famed UPBEAT TV SHOW hosted by Don Webster that ran from 1964 – 1971 on WEWS Channel 5 in Cleveland, OH, the dancers that were featured were a big part of the show’s appeal and success.

Wouldn’t it be great if a mega-dollar producer came along and helped the proppnents take this to the big screen or even a television. I could see a quality, a la Mad Men, production on AMC.

Regardless, below is the press release that was just issued announcing more details on UPBEAT DANCER – THE MUSICAL.


(Cleveland, Ohio) June 1, 2012 – – Today, Dakota P. Productions announced, they have begun pre-production on the musical “Upbeat Dancer”. The production is in preparation for its 2013 debut on the big stage and screen. The musical is based on the industry’s first integrated rock and roll musical variety television show. The Upbeat Show debut in Cleveland, Ohio in 1964 and ran until 1971 giving the city the distinction of being an entertainment hub for musical talent and a gateway to super stardom.

The nationally broadcast Upbeat Show was shot at WEWS Television Studios, WEWS studio is now designated a rock ‘n’ roll historic landmark because of this innovative show called “Upbeat.” Exposure on the show was crucial for up-and-coming artists. It also affected the music that was played over the airwaves. Once the artist appeared on “Upbeat,” the DJs that played that kind of music all over the country had to play their records. The show influenced artists and fans all over the nation.

The Temptations, James Brown, Otis Redding, Mitch Ryder, The Bar-Kay, The Bar-Kay, Dennis Yost and the Classics IV, Three Dog Night , The Cowsills , Oliver, Edwin Starr, Loretta Lynn, Steppenwolf, Joe Tex, American Breed, The Grass Roots, Archie Bell and the Drells, 1910 Fruitgum Company, Marvin Gaye & Tammy Terrel, Jerry Butler, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, The O’Jays, Eric Burton & the Animals, are but a few of the legends that performed on the Upbeat Show.

“Upbeat Dancer” is a production that will have the audience swept up in the excitement, movement and feel of the era. The actors sing, dance and perform their way through the Rock an Roll era of the 60’s and 70’s, the musical brings the music, sounds and style of the 60’s and 70’s current.

For further information on the musical, “Upbeat Dancer” contact, Jamie Johnstone at 216-249-5564 or by email at

NOTE: Also see our related UPBEAT TV SHOW and UPBEAT DANCERS articles at:


Upbeat Dancers Remember #1: DIANNE RINI

An ‘Upbeat’ Success Story!


(c)2012 Doc Lehman/BANGAGONG!


Upbeat Dancers Remember #1: DIANNE RINI

May 3, 2012

(For our history of the Upbeat TV Show click HERE.)

During the long run of the now classic Upbeat TV Show that aired from 1964 –  1971 in Cleveland, OH on WEWS TV, in addition to the amazing bands and
performers who appeared, one popular fixture of the show were the now famed Upbeat Dancers. As far as television rock ‘n roll shows that aired the
performers instead of records, the Upbeat Dancers were the first on that
type of show and if you believed all the people who watched it in the area
where I lived and went to school, the Upbeat Dancers left the Shindig,
Hullabaloo & Where The Action Is! dancers in the dust.

Throughout the years the Upbeat Dancers were basically a choreographed
troupe but they were hip to all the new dances and moves, they were
professional, talented and trendsetters. My older sister and her friends
would often buy clothes and get new hair-styles based on what they saw the
Upbeat Dancers girls wearing.

Due to the immediate and popular reaction to the recent entry we did on the
Upbeat show and a number of people emailing and asking the proverbial
“Whatever happened to.. The Upbeat Dancers?” questions we decided to try and make contact with some former Upbeat Dancers and ask them to retrospectively take a look back to their days on the show and share their thoughts and memories and inform people where their lives have gone since then.

Over the years Upbeat Dancers included Constance Gibson, Jean Hagedorn,
Linda Mulcahey, Arline Burks, Jacquelyn Carson, John Magill, Mary Lynn
Curnayn, Arlee Gibson, Michael Ray, Linda Mulcahy, Kim Havrilla, Arline
Burks, Mary Lynn Curnayn, Jacquelyn “Jackie” Carson, Peggy Miller and the
talented Dianne Rini, who was gracious enough to answer some questions about her two years on the Upbeat Show.

Dianne Rini was born and raised in Cleveland, OH and attended high school in Lyndhurst, OH and joined the show as a 16-year-old during it’s last two
years on the air (August 1969 – August 1971) and she obviously was born with
a tremendous artistic ability and talent.

“It was an open audition at Channel 5,” responded Dianne when asked how she
was selected to be an Upbeat Dancer. “I was 16 years old, just started High
School and this was my dream to dance on the UpBeat Show. I was so happy
when I got the call that I made it on the show.   Mary Lynne and I made it
at the same time and we would go to rehearsals together during the week and
the taping of the shows on Saturdays.”

The Dancers didn’t just show up on Saturdays for the taping of the show. “We
rehearsed two evenings per week and taped the show on Saturdays,”  informed Dianne.

Dianne was quizzed on working with the producer and host. “He was nice,”
commented Dianne when asked about producer Herman Spero. “Didn’t really know him.” And host Don Webster? “He was nice and loved what he was doing.”

Other special memories Dianne has is working with the renowned dance
choreographer Hank Nystrom, who served in that capacity on the Upbeat show from 1968 – 1971. “I have wonderful memories of Hank!” proclaimed Dianne. “Great teacher, great dancer- great choreographer- funny and just a great man.”

The Upbeat Dancers also became celebrities themselves. “Yes, we were
recognized and the audience would ask us all for our autographs and I was
known at my high school as the girl that dances on TV.  It was awesome!”

It was brought to Dianne’s attention that the vibe that came through from
the Upbeat Dancers was a friendly on and the audience assumed that the
Dancers were all the best of friends. “There was a great camaraderie amongst
us,” confirmed Dianne. “We had a lot of fun during rehearsals and taping the
show and meeting all the musical guest.  We all got along. I was one of the
youngest of the group. Everyone was really kind and I just remember laughing a lot.”

And of course, there was that endless procession of famous rock stars and
bands that came through the studio weekly to do the show. “I was just in awe
with all the amazing guests on there and we were dancing with them,”
recalled Dianne. “It was so cool. I know who they were but I have to really
go back in my mind to remember them.  I look back on it all and we were
amongst the best musicians of the 70’s.  The greatest musicians that ever

There have been reunions of the Upbeat Dancers, primarily when the Upbeat TV Show was honored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 but unfortunately, Dianne was unaware of it at the time. “They were looking for me, but no one knew where I was till Mary Lynn happened to come across my cousin and then I was contacted,” explained Dianne. “But I wasn’t able to fly to Cleveland for it.  I live in California.”

“I did see Mary Lynn in Cleveland after their get together and then last
year Jeannie, who lives in California too, contacted me and we will get
together soon.  Now everyone is reconnecting with Arlene’s Facebook page.
It is so wonderful.  It was another life.  I am coming to Cleveland to visit
relatives in July and might be able to hook up with some of them there.”

So how does it feel to know the Upbeat Show was honored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005?  “Wonderful! I didn’t know till now. That might have
been the reunion that I couldn’t make it too.”

Dianne did have one special memory that she fondly remembers. “We did a show at Music Hall the last year before we went off the air. It was so amazing
dancing on that stage. I have never felt that feeling again. The whole stage
ignited with all this energy and excitement that each of us dancers exuded
on that stage.”

“The audience loved it – my parents loved it –and it was a very special
moment for me.  I was an Upbeat Dancer the last two years before it went off
the air and so grateful – at 16 years old – to have actually lived one of my
dreams at that time.  How cool is that?  Great time, great memories, great
people, lots of laughs, lots of fun and creative, plus, rehearsals, taping
the show, just dancing on the Upbeat Show on TV! It just doesn’t get any
better, at that time.”

“It was one of the most exciting times in my life.  So much fun! I was so
blessed to be a part of it all, working with everyone that were a part of
this amazing journey. ‘Hey, let’s go with the Upbeat Show!’ Loved it!”

NOTE: Today, the multi-talented Dianne Rini lives in Venice, California and is a Certified Advanced Clear Light Healer in addition to being a visual artist.  Below is her biography from her website,  ABSTRACT ARTISTRY

Dianne Rini today!


Dianne Rini was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She moved to California
in 1982 where she began her journey as a visual artist. Soon after moving
west she created her earliest series of pen and ink drawings, “A Diary
Without Words”. This would become an eleven year study of the intersection
between Rini’s visual and emotional worlds. The series foreshadowed her
dedication to the visual arts and formed the foundation for her future work.
As a self-taught artist Rini’s disciplined approach to “A Diary Without
Words” forced her to hone her artistic abilities. The meticulous and
monochromatic compositions in pen and ink both were an exercise in design
and balance.

From 1991 to 1995 Rini lived in Paris and immersed herself in the French
language and culture. Just as her move to California inspired to create the
series of drawings, her time in Paris invigorated her need for visual
evolution. She began studying different mediums and incorporating them onto the canvas. Her success with charcoal, pigment, pastel, and acrylic is
evident in the skillful works that followed.

Dianne Rini paints a philosophy of gratitude and reverence. She recognizes
divine in the mundane and translates her joy for living into her diverse
paintings and drawings.

2003 Group Exhibition, The Red Room, Venice
Solo Exhibition, French Market Cafe, Venice
Group Exhibition, Malibu Art Association, Desert Cove, Malibu
2001 Solo Exhibition, The Loft Exhibit, BGH Gallery, Santa Monica
Group Exhibition, Prototype Gallery, Los Angeles
Solo Exhibition,”Dan Les Yeux de Juliette”,David Aden Gallery Venice

For more information on Dianne Rini and her art and photography visit her

For more information on Dianne Rini’s work as a Certified Advanced Clear Light Healer visit her website: CLEAR LIGHT HEALING

(c)2012 Doc Lehman/Bangagong!



April 18, 2012

If you were a young person in the 1960’s and early 1970’s who loved rock ‘n roll and lived in northeast Ohio and if you were anywhere near a television on Saturday’s at 5:00 PM from 1964 – 1971 you were more than likely tuned into the Upbeat TV Show that aired weekly over Cleveland’s WEWS Channel 5. Upbeat was a weekly music program that featured the top national, international and regional bands of the day.

“It was the first show of its kind that really wasn’t a dance party,” said David Spero to WEWS not long ago. David Spero is the son of Herman Spero, producer of the WEWS program The Old Dutch Polka Review, which would later be known as Polka Varieties. “Instead of having, like American Bandstand, where they’d have Frankie Avalon come on and sing two songs, all the rest was kids dancing to the records, he said ‘Let’s have 10 acts.'”

 Upbeat was a trendsetter having appeared long before Hullabaloo, Shindig, Where The Action Is and later, In Concert, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and the Midnight Special. It debuted on August 29, 1964 as The Big 5 Show, named so because it aired on Channel 5 at 5:00 PM on Saturdays. It was hosted by a variety of Cleveland area disc jockeys until Spero decided a permanent host was needed. Spero saw a young Don Webster hosting a Canadian dance party show and hired him to take over the soon-to-be-renamed Upbeat show.
After being hired by WEWS one of Webster’s first duties was to interview The Beatles during their Cleveland appearance.

                                       Don Webster & The Beatles – 1964
Soon after Upbeat’s popularity grew so large that Spero and WEWS began syndicating the show around the country, eventually appearing in 105 television markets.
Bands/performers would be brought in on a Friday and Spero, Webster and their staff would try to get them a booking at a local High School or club so they’d get some extra pay out of it.

The McCoys (Rick Derringer – left) w/ Don Webster

“We would tape it on Saturday afternoon, rehearsal started at nine, took a break at noon, came back at 1:30 and shot the show and hopefully it was done by five o’clock when you had to see it,” Spero explained. The videotape of one-hour “Upbeat” episode would be copied nine times and then sent to a station in each of the top ten markets (such as New York, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas) broadcast and then that station would sent to a station in the next lower market size, shipped or “bicycled” from market to market.

It didn’t take long for acts who appeared on Upbeat to eventually be seen nationally after a month or so of the tapes making the rounds.

Eric Burden & The Animals appeared

Over the years a virtual who’s who of national, international and regional bands performed numerous times on Upbeat, a few examples included Marvin Gaye & Tammie Terrel, Music Explosion, Velvet Underground, McCoys, Yardbirds, Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, John Kay, Steppenwolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Monkees, Sonny Geraci and The Outsiders, Canned Heat, Paul Revere & The Riders, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tommy James, Sly and The Family Stone, Terry Knight and the Pack,  Johnny Nash, Billy Joe Royal, Stevie Wonder, Gene Krupa, Steam, Box Tops, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Eric Burdon, Lou Christie, The 5th Dimension, Gene Pitney, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Otis Redding, Bar-Kays, the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Fanny, Scott MacKenzie, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Circus, The Toys, American Breed, Steve Colt, The Chylds, The Fifth Estate, The Sonics, Doughboys, Pleasure Seekers, Tiffany Shade, London & The Bridges, The Debutantes, Cyrus Erie, Kickin’ Mustangs, John Sebastian and The Lovin’ Spoonful, Bob Seger, GTO’s, The Shangra-La’s, Spanky and Our Gang, Peter and Gordon, Simon and Garfunkel, Chubby Checker, Grasshoppers, Gary Puckett and Union Gap, Pete Best, Left Banke, Raven, James Gang, Eric Carmen, Choir, Damnation of Adam Blessing.

The legendary BB King

One memorable guest who appeared performed for the last time. On December 9, 1967, after appearing on the Upbeat show and doing a gig in Canton, OH, Otis Redding subsequently died in an airplane crash on the way to his next gig in Madison, WI. “The end of the show was him (Redding), with the Bar-Kays and Mitch Ryder singing ‘Knock On Wood’,” Spero said.
Over the years Upbeat featured several ‘house bands’ to back up solo performers. Upbeat house bands were Dave C and the Sharptones, The Grasshoppers (of which the late Ben Orr of the Cars was a member), Rapid Transit and the People’s Choice (Puzzle People).

The Cowsills

Another selling and focal point to the Upbeat show were the ‘Upbeat Dancers’ who performed during various guests’ performances. Maurice “Hank” Nystrom, who went on to national acclaim, was Upbeat’s choreographer (1968 – 1971) when the show was televised to 105 cities nationwide.

Over the years Upbeat Dancers included Jean Hagedorn. Linda Mulcahey, Arline Burks, Jacquelyn Carson, John Magill, Mary Lynn Curnayn, Arlee Gibson, Constance Gibson, Michael Ray, Linda Mulcahy, Kim Havrilla, Arline Burks, Mary Lynn Curnayn, Jacquelyn “Jackie” Carson, Peggy Miller, and Diane Rini, among others.

 After Upbeat ended in 1971 Webster remained at WEWS until his retirement in 1999. He did weather, hosted the Ohio Lottery show, Academic Challenge, The Gene Carroll Show, Bowling for Dollars and anchored Live On Five. Webster is now enjoying his retirement in South Carolina.

Mitch Ryder, Webster, Otis Redding

Ironically, Upbeat founder Herman Spero, who died in 1979 at the age young of 55, proposed to cable networks the idea of a music TV channel just before his death. HBO turned him down. Within a couple years MTV was born.

UPBEAT honored by Hall of Fame

Alex Chilton & The Boxtops appeared several times


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