Christmas might feel a bit different this year but a new musical adventure is coming to Netflix to offer a welcome distraction and some very festive cheer.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is set in the vibrant fictional town of Cobbleton and follows legendary toymaker Jeronicus Jangle, who falls on hard times after his trusted apprentice Gustafson steals his most prized creation, his book of inventions, which includes the plans for a talking puppet.

It comes down to clever and creative grand-daughter Journey to restore his sense of magic and wonder, and set things right.

Boasting a diverse cast including Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Ricky Martin, Phylicia Rashad and Anika Noni Rose, and directed by playwright David E. Talbert, it includes songs by John Legend, Philip Lawrence, Davy Nathan and while it features a Victorian setting, the music and dance have a very modern feel.

"The first thing that excited me about it was the music," says 49-year-old Key, who plays dastardly Gustafson.

"At that point in time I hadn't done a musical since high school, even though in my life I've sung in bands, I definitely sung in the shower, I've done whole albums in the shower, so the music was the first thing.

"Tied with that would be the fact the story was what took precedent over anything else, it wasn't about it being black people, it was about it being humans interacting with each other and reigniting hope and reigniting love.

"To me, the diversity is part of the magic, I like David's boldness and bravery and foresight, which is 'we should be doing this too, people of colour should be doing this as well', and then it shows us as human.

"There is amazing production design and costume design in this picture that is unbelievable and that gives you a sense of that, there's Kente cloth (a Ghanaian textile, made of handwoven cloth strips of silk and cotton) woven into the Victorian dress and all of those details.

"It's really well balanced that we get this nice human story - it's set in what one 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 Jeronicus's daughter Jessica, agrees.

"What shocks me is when there is no diversity in a cast, so for me it was looking at life the way I know life to be.

"I think that is one thing that is going to make this film universal, that is going to make people excited to see it and be a part of it, because it will remind them of friends and family, both by blood and chosen, and holiday love.

"We all have holiday tables, holiday dinners, we open presents next to people who sometimes look like us and sometimes look nothing like us but we are connected by the love and the spirt of the season and that is what is being shown with Jingle Jangle."

For singing superstar Martin, 48, the film gave him the chance to show off his comedy chops (his latest acting role was the much, much darker Assassination of Gianni Versace) but also be part of something he could share with his four young children, twin boys Matteo and Valentino, daughter Lucia, and son Renn.

"When I received the phone call I was super excited," he says gleefully.

"Number one because I was going to be working with these actors and incredible people that I've always admired, and to be able to work also with David our director, who guided me in such a beautiful way.

"And then it's about the story, it's about the dancing, it's about the beautiful possibilities that this story is about, it teaches you so much. I think this is a classical holiday movie that we will be watching for the next 30 years, it is so beautifully shot and the message is beautiful and hopeful."

Less beautiful and hopeful is the puppet he voices, Don Juan Diego.

"He is terrible, he is vicious and Machiavellian," Martin says with relish. "And it was the first time I had to tap into that kind of madness for work.

"Madness in real life, all the time," he adds with a laugh, "but for work it was different.

"I have kids and for me to be able to sit down with them, with a family story, it's very special because they see me in a different light.

"The other acting parts I've done are so dark and they are so young that they haven't been able to see them.

"So the most important thing is that I can sit down with my family, all generations, and it doesn't matter what part of the world you're from, you will relate to this because the story, even though it's in the 1800s, it's so relevant to what we are doing today."

The cast are now hoping the film will be part of the canon of classic Christmas movies, like the ones they return to every year.

"I like to watch the live action Grinch with Mr Jim Carrey," says newcomer Madalen Mills, 11, who plays Jeronicus's granddaughter Journey.

"It's so good, it's so funny and I've been watching it a lot. That is one of my favourites, if not my favourite holiday movie."

"I love The Grinch too!" chimes in 48-year-old Rose. "I love the cartoon The Grinch and I watch it every year.

"I have some friends who casually call me the Grinch because I cannot stand to go into a store in September or October and hear Christmas music, I will leave, it spoils my joy, but I love that and Love Actually, which makes me cry and makes me feel things every year."

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is available on Netflix.