Izaiah Montague Harris as Eddie Ryan in “Funny Girl.” (Courtesy photo)

Izaiah Montague Harris says most people think tap dance looks easy. But he would argue that his early days of studying under his mother, who is a tap dance instructor, was not as easy as they might think.

“My mother is actually a tap dancer, a choreographer, and she’s actually choreographing for a show right now in Chicago,” said Harris.

“She had me jump into it when I was five-years-old… I didn’t like it at first, well it’s not that I didn’t like it, but it was a lot of work.”

Harris is currently starring as Eddie Ryan in an interpretive musical production of “Funny Girl” currently running at the Ahmanson Theatre through April 28.

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The show, based on the real-life story of Ziegfeld Follies showgirl Fanny Brice, will then go on to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. It will play there from May 28 – June 9.

Though he grew up as a tap dancer, Harris says he later discovered acting and singing and came to love them all equally.

“I think every single one fills me up in a different way,” said Harris. “Tap is my favorite for emotions I don’t understand. I sing when I get shots [vaccinations], and I’m finding out I love acting a lot more than I thought with this show [Funny Girl].”

Even though Harris loves each one the same, he says singing is his current favorite because he can do it all the time.

Hailing from the Southside of Chicago, IL, Harris’ previous roles on the stage include “Tap Dance Kid” and “Riverdance.” He says working on “Riverdance,” which was a huge production, and “Tap Dance Kid,” which was more up close and personal, taught him about the differences associated with productions of different scope.

While Harris says he was familiar with some of the songs from “Funny Girl,” he didn’t learn that they originated with the show until he booked it.

“’People’ [from Funny Girl] is like literally one of my favorite songs,” said Harris. “After I got the role, that was when I saw the [Funny Girl] movie, but it’s [the play] so different than the movie.”

He says there are many shared ideas between the film and the play, and that the scripts are basically the same, but the current production of “Funny Girl” is more theatrical.

Also, Harris says his character, Eddie Ryan, was originally written as a Caucasian. But in this version of the musical, he’s not.

“I didn’t see myself in it.  But after reading the new script and seeing what we were doing with that, it was over. I was like, ‘Wow, I feel like I am Eddie all the time,’” said Harris.

“Quirky” and “energized” is how Harris describes his portrayal of the role. “He [Eddie] just basically wants everybody to succeed, and he wants people to be happy and do the best that they can in everything,” he said.

Harris says this production of “Funny Girl” has a Vaudevillian simplicity to the stage blocking, and that the character arcs are very relatable to everyone.

For more information on the Ahmanson Theatre production of the musical “Funny Girl,” visit https://www.ahmansontheatre.net/events/funny-girl-02-april-2024/.