MARK D’Arcy is feeling more than a little excited about his role as grumpy little puppet Pinocchio in Shrek: The Musical this month.

Mainly, it’s because this Paisley-born actor who now lives in Oatlands, is performing in front of a home audience; but also because it’s a chance to work with another Glasgow star he has admired for years.

James Gillan, who grew up in Pollok, plays villainous Lord Farquaad in the show, which comes to the King’s Theatre from January 15 to 20.

The Gazette: James GillanJames Gillan (Image: Shrek: The Musical)

“At college, we had to do a presentation about an actor we admired, and I chose James,” says Mark.

“He was from Glasgow, and had gone on to do such amazing shows like Joseph, and Wicked, which was really inspiring to me. He made me believe that maybe one day I could be playing roles like that.”

The Gazette: Mark D'Arcy as PinocchioMark D'Arcy as Pinocchio (Image: Shrek: The Musical)

Mark’s first professional job was at the King’s in the children’s ensemble for Cinderella.

“I was back last Christmas in the adult ensemble for the panto, which felt like a real full circle moment,” he says.

“And to be going back in this role feels like a privilege. Shrek is pure escapism, the chance to dive headfirst into a world of crazy, fairytale characters and leave ordinary life behind for a while.”

Mark’s mum and dad, Anne-Marie and Bernard, his grandfather Bennie and brothers David and Matthew will be cheering him on at the King’s.

“Yeah, my family will be taking over the stalls,” he says, grinning. “I am nervous, but I’m also super excited. I’ve been hyping up how amazing Glasgow audiences are, to everyone else on the tour.”

The Gazette: Mark D'ArcyMark D'Arcy (Image: Shrek: The Musical)

He grins: “Glasgow people have a reputation of being raucous, so now I’m hoping they will live up to that.”

James believes Mark is a young actor of “considerable talent”, he says.

“I know he’s going to be a big star,” he explains.

“Shrek is full of heart, and Lord Farquaad is a lot of fun. It’s always more fun to play the baddie.”

James was just 16 and still at school – Bellarmine Secondary - when he landed the lead role in the UK tour of James and the Giant Peach.

“I’d got my feet wet in amateur dramatics in Glasgow, and I liked it,” he explains. “A friend told me to get The Stage magazine. I spotted two adverts, one for a drama college in London, and one looking for cast members for James and the Giant Peach, so I applied, and I got them both.”

That could have been the end of things, as James was so homesick at college, he left.

“The course director called my parents and said – ‘tell him to come back, because we think he could really do this,’” recalls James. “So I did.”

It proved a wise decision, as James has gone on to play some of musical theatre’s biggest roles.

At 19, he was chosen to understudy Phillip Schofield in Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and he received an Olivier award nomination for his performance in The Who’s Tommy in London.

He was the first actor to play the part of unfortunate munchkin Boq in smash-hit musical Wicked in London, and he created the role of Tray in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

“On paper, it all looks quite good,” he says, smiling. “But the reality is this is a hard job, with lots of ups and downs.

“Wicked was a magical time – I’ve never seen anything like the hysteria that surrounded that show when it first opened. People were queueing in sleeping bags on the streets to get tickets, it was insane. But it was great to be a part of the Wicked phenomenon.”