FURRY FRIENDS SHINE

New an­i­mated film The Star tells the Na­tiv­ity story from the point of view of the an­i­mals as Mariah Carey joins the fun with a clas­sic tune

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY - SALLY COATES

Com­ing up with unique sto­ry­lines in this day and age must be tough, let alone in niche gen­res, but the writ­ers and direc­tors be­hind Christ­mas film The Star have done just that.

“It’s the Na­tiv­ity story from the point of view of the an­i­mals, and in this film, we fol­low Bo, who is the don­key that car­ries Mary and Joseph to Beth­le­hem,” says di­rec­tor Ti­mothy Reckart.

“It’s about how some­thing that seems small can be big­ger than it looks on the out­side. Bo has been look­ing to do some­thing im­por­tant, and he starts seek­ing that in a self­ag­gran­dis­ing way.

“Along the jour­ney, by do­ing a small thing – help­ing th­ese two peo­ple, which, for all he knows, are just some ran­dom cou­ple – he winds up do­ing the most im­por­tant thing he could ever achieve.

“Great­ness comes in the most hum­ble ap­pear­ance, which is the mes­sage of the Christ­mas story it­self.”

It was the world’s fa­mil­iar­ity with the story that ex­cited the di­rec­tor.

“Most peo­ple have some knowl­edge of it, and that presents a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity,” Reckart says.

“Of course, the chal­lenge is peo­ple may feel they know the story, they’ve seen it.

“But we can make the most of it by let­ting some of those el­e­ments take place off-screen, and look at what might have been go­ing on in the back­ground, or ask ques­tions like ‘What were the camels do­ing at that mo­ment?’

“That aware­ness of the story al­lows us to veer off into the corners and shine a light on other things go­ing on and tell new sto­ries in the midst of the fa­mil­iar.”

The crew were also faced with the task of recre­at­ing a heav­ily re­li­gious tale while be­ing in­clu­sive of a huge range of de­mo­graph­ics.

“We looked at it as the great­est story never told,” says ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer DeVon Franklin.

“Au­di­ences aren’t com­ing for the doc­u­men­tary or the his­tor­i­cal ex­po­si­tion – they’re com­ing for en­joy­ment and cre­ativ­ity.

“It says a lot about team­work. It’s also about hope – you’ve got to be­lieve in the im­pos­si­ble for it to hap­pen.

“I think we found ways to present Mary and Joseph as recog­nis­able char­ac­ters who laugh, who are afraid, who find them­selves at the cen­tre of this amaz­ing story and dis­play their hu­man­ity through­out it all.”

The en­tire film is tied to­gether by an up­lift­ing sound­track, spear­headed by the queen of Christ­mas mu­sic her­self.

“Mariah Carey is noth­ing less than a liv­ing leg­end,” Franklin says. “That’s why, from day one, when we talked about the mu­sic, the num­ber one name was Mariah Carey.

“Now, we can all dream, but when Mariah said ‘yes’ to the film, all of us were ex­cited and we were shocked – as much as we thought it would be great, you don’t al­ways get your first choice.

“She came to the stu­dio with Marc Shaiman and I showed them a few scenes from the movie. Well, as soon as I fin­ish show­ing them the scenes, they go into a booth with a pi­ano and start writ­ing.

“Less than 48 hours later, Mariah calls and says, ‘Can you come down to the stu­dio? We’ve fin­ished the song’.

“When I heard it, it is truly one of the most in­spi­ra­tional songs I have ever heard.”

With a cast com­pris­ing of The Walk­ing Dead’s Steven Yeun as Bo, Jane the Vir­gin’s Gina Ro­driguez as Mary, Tan­gled’s Zachary Levi plus a smat­ter­ing of huge names among the smaller roles, in­clud­ing Oprah Win­frey, Kelly Clark­son, Gabriel Igle­sias, Tracy Mor­gan and Tyler Perry, Reckart says the ex­pe­ri­ence was noth­ing short of in­spir­ing.

“The thing that re­ally sur­prised me was how each of th­ese artists ap­proached their par­tic­u­lar roles,” he says.

“The ac­tors all made th­ese char­ac­ters leap off the page.” The Star is in cine­mas to­day

Singing sensation Mariah Carey per­forms the ti­tle track for new an­i­mated Christ­mas film The Star.

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