This year, Christmas can feel a little different, but Netflix is coming up with a new musical adventure, offering a welcome diversion and a really festive spirit.
Set in the vibrant fictional town of Cobbleton, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Adventure follows legendary toymaker Jeronicus Jangle, who finds himself in a tough time after his trusted apprentice Gustafson steals his most precious project, his Book of Inventions, which includes a talking doll’s plans.
It’s up to Journey, a smart and imaginative granddaughter, to restore his sense of magic and wonder and to correct things.
The play contains songs by John Legend, Philip Lawrence and Davy Nathan, directed by the playwright David E. Talbert and featuring a diverse cast (including Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Ricky Martin, Phylicia Rashad and Anika Noni Rose), and although set in the Victorian period, the music and dancing sound very modern.
“The first thing that excited me about the play was the music,” says the 49-year-old Main, who plays the nasty Gustafson.
“I hadn’t done a musical since high school at that point, even though I’ve sung in bands in my life, I’ve certainly sung in the shower, I’ve recorded whole albums in the shower, so the first thing was the music.
It was not about black people, it was about people engaging and rekindling hope and love, combined with the fact that the story took priority over all else.
“Diversity is part of the magic for me, I like the courage and courage of David and his foresight that says, “We should do this too, people of color should do this too,” and then it shows us as human beings,” he said.
“In this film, there’s amazing production and costume design that gives you a sense of that, there’s Kente fabric (a Ghanaian textile made of silk and cotton hand-woven strips) woven into the Victorian dress, and all these details.
“It’s really well balanced that we get this beautiful human story – it’s set in what you would say is a very Anglo environment, but it’s informed by this African-American experience, and I think the fusion is magical.”
Dreamgirls actress Rose, who plays daughter Jessica of Jeronicus, agrees.
When there is no diversity in a cast, what surprises me is that for me it was a glimpse at life as I know it,”What shocks me is when there’s no diversity in a cast, so for me it was a look at life as I know it,”
I think that’s one thing that’s going to make this movie universal, that’s going to make people want to see it and be part of it, because it’s going to remind them of friends and family, both blood-related and chosen, and love for holidays.
“We all have holiday tables, holiday dinners, we open gifts next to people who sometimes look like us and sometimes don’t look like us at all, but we’re connected by the love and spirit of the season and that’s what’s on display with Jingle Jangle.”
The movie gave him the opportunity to show off his comedy talents for singing superstar Martin, 48 (his last acting job was the much, much darker Assassination of Gianni Versace), but also to be part of something he can share with his four young children, twin boys Matteo and Valentino, daughter Lucia and son Renn.
“When I got the call, I was super excited,” he says, beaming with excitement.
First of all, because I’d get to work with these amazing actors and people who I’ve always respected, and also to be able to work with our producer, David, who directed me in such a wonderful way.
And then it’s about the plot, it’s about dancing, it’s about the wonderful possibilities this story has to bring, it’s about discovering so much in the process. I think it’s a classic holiday movie that we’re going to be watching for the next 30 years, so beautifully filmed, and so beautiful and optimistic is the message.
The puppet to whom he lends his voice, Don Juan Diego, is less beautiful and more optimistic.
Martin says with relish, “He’s awful, he’s vicious and Machiavellian. “And that was the first time I had to tap into that kind of madness for work.
All the time, crazy in real life,” he adds with a laugh, “but it was different for work.
‘I have children, and it is very special for me to sit down with them and share a family story, so they see me in a different light,’ he says.
The other acting roles I played were so dark and they were so young that they could not see them.
The most important thing is that I can sit down with all the generations of my family, and that’s it, and that’s it.