Portraying Nala in The Lion King is Amazing

Kayla Cyphers talks about her role as she prepares to bring it to Denver

By Theresa Ho

Kayla Cyphers, a Southern California native, has never experienced Colorado snow. As a cast member for Disney’s The Lion King, Cyphers has been traveling around the country and is excited to see what winter in Colorado is like.

The Lion King has won more than 70 global theatrical awards. Tony® Award-winning director and designer Julie Taymor, along with designer Michael Curry, hand sculpted and painted every prototype mask that appears in the “Circle of Life” opening of the show. Their department of mask makers, sculptures, puppeteers, and artisans spent 17,000 hours building the characters for the original Broadway production.

Before playing Nala in musical, Cyphers appeared in Bat Out of Hell, The North American Tour/New York Engagement, and Aida at John W. Engeman Theater.

“I didn’t actually think that I would make singing a career,” Cyphers said.

She originally went to school for fashion design but realized halfway through the program that she missed singing and switched majors. At 20 years old, she started taking singing lessons and began attending AMDA College of Performing Arts Los Angeles, where she earned her bachelor of fine arts.

“It was school that really taught me about musical theater and about the legends of musical theater and about how amazing and magical it actually is,” she said.

Having recently married, she said planning a wedding during a pandemic was certainly stressful, but the actual wedding and reception – both held outside – were lovely. She added that all guests were given personalized masks, and everyone was able to be vaccinated.

According to Cyphers, being able to be a part of The Lion King is a dream come true, and playing Nala has been wonderful.

“She as a character is very strong and is very understanding of just who she is,” Cyphers said. “It’s amazing to be able to channel that every night. Tapping into that reminds me of my own strength, and I’m grateful for Nala in that way.”

She emphasized that she and the rest of the cast are overjoyed to have the audience back – especially because they were not able to be at work for a year and a half due to COVID-19 protocols.

“The audience is really part of the show. And I really want the audience to come and know that we really want you to be enveloped in the artistry of it all. We want you to laugh at all the jokes, and we want you to feel the heartbreak when we feel the heartbreak,” she said. “We’re leaning on the audience just as the audience is leaning on us. We’re just really happy to be back, and we’re excited to share this show with Denver.”

Editor’s note: Disney’s The Lion King will be playing at The Buell Theatre from Dec. 2, 2021 to Jan. 2, 2022. Tickets are still available at www.denvercenter.org.