• Biography

  • Seventeen-year-old Kyra Belle Johnson didn’t know where she was going to college. Auditioning across the country for a spot in several university musical theater departments, she found herself on a few wait lists and nervously anticipating her next move. Now, those plans will have to wait….the 2015 Palos Verdes High School graduate is playing a lead role in the Mamma Mia! national tour.

    To quote the Abba classic, Thank You for the Music, Kyra has been “singing before she could talk and dancing before she could walk.” She honed her skills singing, dancing, and acting at the 450 seat Norris Center for the Performing Arts in southern California as well as her high school drama department.

    Tap dancing as young as 5 on the Norris stage, Kyra landed her first role as the Jester in Once Upon a Mattress, and broke out her comedy in Dear Edwina as Fairy Forkmother, both directed by Alexis Carra. Her first lead was the signature role in Annie, playing the plucky 11-year-old orphan. Surprisingly, her next lead role would be 9 months later, but she aged up – playing 22-year-old Millie Dillmount in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

    In the past 4 years Kyra has been cast as the ingénue…the indomitable girl…Dorothy (WIZ), Reno Sweeny ( Anything Goes), Elle Woods (Legally Blonde), Fiona (Shrek), Gabriella (High School Musical), and Kate Monster (Avenue Q), which was possibly her favorite musical comedy role.

    Kyra loved Palos Verdes High School, and is thankful for the experiences she had there. “We had a student body that let everyone shine in their own way and we all supported one another’s passions.”

    Kyra was honored as 2014 Best Actress of the Year at the annual John Raitt Awards (JRAYs) at Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton for the role of Princess Fiona in Shrek! The Musical performed in 2014 at her Palos Verdes High School stage. That role was her third consecutive spring musical. More than 1,000 high school students from all over Orange and Los Angeles counties compete in the John Raitt Awards each year.

    As part of the award, she was flown to New York for an intensive one-week workshop in voice, acting and dance at Broadway Artists Alliance before performing in a showcase for Broadway casting directors. The prestigious JRAY award was followed by another JRAY nomination for Best Actress for her lead role as Kate Monster in Avenue Q. Kyra was then awarded at a Senior Acting Scholarship at the 2015 CETA Festival.

    The audition process for Mamma Mia! lasted just 4 days in Los Angeles. “I kept getting called back, and my Dad was more worried about my missing school than actually landing a role.”

    She found out she’d been cast as Sophie in April, but she couldn’t tell anyone. “There were contracts to sign and a whole lot of things to settle, and I needed to adjust to the idea that I wouldn’t be going to college just yet” she said.

    This is the first time the role has been played by an actress the same age as the character, and Kyra is honored that the production team has trusted her with this responsibility.

    Mamma Mia! premiered Oct 25, 2015 in Utica, New York. Her local community loved the opportunity to share in the excitement of her leading role when Mamma Mia! performed on the iconic stage of the “Pinch me now!” Hollywood Pantages Theater in Los Angeles January 2016, another dream come true for the young talent with a big future. As the Abba tune says…“I have a dream, a song to sing…”