Megan Cassels-Conway

poster image



Kerry Armstrong - Justine
Ben Miller – Mr. Jonathon
Shayni Notelovitz – Tenille
Denise Roberts - Barbara
Tara Morice - Marianne
Nadine Garner - Paulette
Clancy Ryan - Grace
Jane Hall – Miss Elizabeth
Toni Lamond – Sherry Leonard
Barry Crocker – Donie Destry

To view a more complete cast list visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493160/

Production Crew:

Darren Ashton - Director
Karan Monkhouse - First Assistant Director
Al Clark - Executive Producer
Simon Bosanquet - Co-Executive Producer
Jodi Matterson - Producer
Andrena Finlay – Producer
Garry Phillips - Cinematographer
Carolyn Wilson - Screenwriter
Robin Ince - Screenwriter
Julie-Anne Deruvo - Editor
Philip Horn - Editor
Nick Harmon - Casting
Lucy Bevan - Casting
Karen Harborow - Production Designer
 Ariane Weiss - Costume Designer
Roger Mason - Composer (Music Score)
Tony Campbell - Art Director
Mark Cornish - Sound/Sound Designer
John O'Connell - Choreography

Other Movie and Box Office Info:

Release date – 15 March, 2007 in Australia
Filming location – Sydney, NSW, Australia
Runtime – 95 minutes
Distributor – Palace
Genre – Comedy/ Mockumentary
Rating – PG
Opening week earnings: $ 597,337
Budget: $2 million

Interesting film fact: This movie was shot in less than 25 days!


Interviews with the Crew:

Interview with director Darren Ashton:  http://www.afc.gov.au/newsandevents/afcnews/converse/darren_ashton/newspage_377.aspx
“I backed off as much as possible from contriving camera and performance. For example, the children never read a script or knew what we were doing from moment to moment.”

Watch a video interview with director Darren Ashton:
“I wanted people to kind of go into this world and almost feel like it was a documentary, because I wanted to bring as much realism to it as I could...”

Interview with actor Ben Miller who plays Mr. Jonathon:
“The main challenge is to try and make it look like it's happening for real, for the first time, in front of the camera, as it would in a documentary.”

Catch filmmakers studio’s feature on producer Al Clark on July 20 at 7 pm!
For more info go to:

Movie Reviews:

Review by Nick Prescott of ABC Adelaide:
“Razzle Dazzle is a lot of fun to behold.”

Review by Sandra Hall of the Sydney Morning Herald:
“The film's trouble lies in sustaining the joke…much of the time, Ashton doesn't seem sure if he wants to salute or satirise the ambience he's taking us into.”

Review by Kerry Bashford:
“Step aside Kenny, Razzle Dazzle is the most entertaining Aussie film in years.”

Review by Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton from At the Movies:
“It’s silly but it’s fun.”

On-line Presence:

In a google search of razzle dazzle, the Australian mockumentary Razzle Dazzle is a prominent result, although the official movie website was somewhat harder to find. The majority of the results are reviews and synopsis of the film. Because the film is a recent release and still in some theatres at this time, many of the results are for cinema times and locations. At this time there was no DVD availability so no sites to purchase the movie were present. There were few results including interviews. The little interviews encountered were mostly with director Darren Ashton.

The following are sites in which to find availability of Razzle Dazzle at the cinema in Western Australia:



Razzle Dazzle is a behind-the-scenes mockumentary about the world of children’s competitive dance. The main character of the film is Mr. Jonathon, an alternative dance teacher who believes he can solve the problems of the world through dance. He has the children perform routines about topics such as animal testing, corporate treatment of workers, and the plight of Middle Eastern women.

On the other hand, Mr. Jonathon’s competition, Miss Elizabeth, is overly strict and conventional. She weighs her girls regularly and demands perfection. Her troupe always receives first place and is nothing but the best.

Mr. Jonathon’s studio teaches many children including the star student, Tenille. Tenille’s mother Justine is overly pushy and works her daughter hard in order to make her famous, even going so far as to use electroshock on her daughters leg muscles when she is too tired to practice any longer. When a new student, Grace, comes with a possibility of stealing some of Tenille’s thunder, Justine breaks down from the pressure and has to be consoled by Tenille.

Grace is a very mature young girl who’s family is, to say the least, very dysfunctional. Her pregnant mother, Paulette, is forgetful and always late. Grace’s father, a TV garden show host, recently ran off with his handy-man sidekick. Grace seems to be the parent in this family, rushing her mother along and writing her reminder notes. She is a determined dancer herself and organizes auditions on her own.

Even with these two star dancers, Mr. Jonathon’s troupe doesn’t seem to do well in dance competitions. At the semi-finals the troupe placed one place lower than they needed to make it to the grand finals. But luck was on their side, and due to a car accident in which the second place troupe leader broke her leg, Mr. Jonathon’s Jazzketeers got to go to the semi-finals by default.


With an opportunity to go to the finals, the Jazzketeers go into overtime. Mr. Jonathon’s assistant Barbara even goes so far as to adopt children with potential from an orphanage and eventually kidnap a boy dancer to join the troupe. Because Grace got the main part, Justine is broken, but when Tenille gets the opportunity to take over the boy’s part, Justine pushes her harder than ever.

When the Jazzketeers perform at the grand finals, Tenille collapses from exhaustion (thanks to Justine). After some debate, the troupe is given the chance to adjust their routine and perform again minus Tenille. In the end, the Jazzketeers are victorious and win the grand finals. This comes as a huge surprise to Miss Elizabeth who claims they only won because the second place troupe didn’t perform and her troupe’s male dancer was injured. The film ends with Mr. Jonathon’s self-proclamation that dance is going to solve the entire world’s injustice and it started with him.
Critical Uptake:

Razzle Dazzle was initially shown at the Berlin International Film Festival in February and was well received. This film was only released to the public in Australia and has yet only been in theatres. There were mixed reviews as to how well the film was pulled off. Many said it was funny and very realistically done for a mockumentary, while others say it fell short of Strictly Ballroom and the Christopher Guest mockumentaries like Best in Show.

Razzle Dazzle has been criticized for its use of the mockumentary style. Some critics say that this has been overdone, following last year’s Australian mockumentary hit Kenny. It was said that it was overdone and not realistic. Many compared it to Baz Lurhman’s hit Strictly Ballroom but said that it was not as well executed.

On the other hand, many critics recommend the movie saying it is a warm and funny comedy. They focus not so much on the realistic element of the movie, but on its ability to entertain the audience.

Personal Review:

When I saw this movie in the theatre, I was not prepared for the constant laughter I was about to endure. Throughout the whole film, not only myself, but the whole audience was falling off their seats laughing. As soon as you had a moment to catch your breath, another hilarious scene came. The characters were comically exaggerated but still had the sense of reality that made them relatable and even more amusing. This movie was well made with a great cast, script, and cinematography. This is my favorite Australian film as of yet and I highly recommend anyone to see Razzle Dazzle.

I could not find any information as to whether this film will be released in the US. In my opinion, it definitely should. I believe it would do quite well in both theatres and on DVD. Critics would probably give the same kind of mixed reviews it received in Australia, but the majority would probably give positive recommendations to audiences.

About the Director:

Razzle Dazzle was only director Darren Ashton’s second feature film. Ashton got his start in the film industry as one of Australia’s top commercial directors.

His first film was Thunderstruck which was released in 2004. Thunderstruck became one of Australia’s prominent comedy films, receiving 2 AFI nominations. This film did well and was generally well received. The film was praised for the cross-continent filming. Ashton worked with producers Jodi Matterson and Adrena Finlay on Thunderstruck and wanted to work with them again to create Razzle Dazzle.

Before Thunderstruck, Ashton directed a comedic short film called The Extra in 1999. The short film received 2 AFI nominations, one of which Ashton received for Best Short Fiction Film. It also won 2 awards at Tropfest, where Ashton won second prize. The Extra was a ten minute film shot in the mockumentary style. Ashton sites his positive experience filming the short mockumentary as the reason for wanting to shoot a feature film in this style.

To give Razzle Dazzle a more realistic feel the child actors were not given scripts. They were directed through the scenes by the adult actors. If a particular line was to be read, the children were told right before shooting. The reactions of the children in the scenes and their actions are being done for the first time during the shooting. The film was also shot in hd to make it seem more realistic. Each film was a continuous 30 minutes long.

Interesting fact: The idea for Razzle Dazzle  came from a short story written by
      Ashton’s wife about an overzealous stage mother(who became
      Justine in the movie).

Genre in Australian Context:

Razzle Dazzle is a comedy based on the fact that a comedy makes you laugh. The film has many aspects of a situational comedy including multiple role reversals. The oppositeness of characters like Mr. Jonathon and Miss Elizabeth or Justine and Paulette, also add to the comedy of the film.

In recent years mockumentaries have come to the forefront of Australian comedy. Razzle Dazzle follows last years Australian mockumentary hit Kenny. The mockumentary style shows as though it is a documentary, but exaggerates the characters for comedic reasons. In Razzle Dazzle the characters embellish characteristics of pushiness, perfectionism, competitiveness, the desire to change the world, forgetfulness, and other over-the-top traits. These traits always reflect traits the audience can see within themselves.

In general, Razzle Dazzle does not contain many of the characteristics of an Australian movie. There are not any scenery shots, the jokes are flamboyant and not subtle like most Australian films, and there is no looking down upon women or homosexuals. There is, however; a quirkiness to the film that could be considered typical of an Australian film. Razzle Dazzle is filled with wacky, wild, over-the-top characters and situations that make up the quirky character of an Australian comedy.

Another characteristic of Australian films present in Razzle Dazzle is the idea that the underdog will overcome. Throughout the movie, Mr. Jonathon’s troupe is seen as somewhat of a joke in the dance world. In the end they overcome and win the grand finals, proving that the underdog can defeat the favorite and gain respect.

Although eccentricity factor of an Australian film is present, if you took out the accents, occasional Australian slang, and the fact it takes place in Sydney it would be hard to distinguish this as an Australian movie. If this movie is released in the US, the majority of the audience will most likely not recognize its Australian origin.



Additional sources are listed in the interview and review sections.

Official Razzle Dazzle website:

Palace Films website:

IMDb movie database about Darren Ashton:
Garry Gillard, 'Quirkiness in Australian Cinema', Australian Screen Education, no. 29, 2002: 30-35.
Garry Gillard, Ten Types of Australian Film, Chapter 8: Comedy.
Steve Neale 2000, 'Comedy', part of Chapter 3 of Genre and Hollywood, Routledge, London: 64-71.

IMDb movie database about Razzle Dazzle:

Australia Film Commission interview with Darren Ashton:

New York Times about Darren Ashton: