LORA LEE GAYER was raised in Naples, Florida. Her parents were jointly involved in the fashion industry. As a young child, she was initially interested in more visual arts, though she later transferred to performance. She sang with the Naples Philharmonic Youth Chorale at age 11, and began attending the Interlochen Center for the Arts (Michigan) summer program at the age of thirteen. Three years later, she began her full-time education with Interlochen's prep school. Gayer attended the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in Pittsburgh, graduating with a major in musical theater.
Immediately after college, Gayer moved back to New York and began looking for performing work. Gayer made her Broadway debut in the revival of Follies as Young Sally. She had played the role at the premiere of the production at the Kennedy Center. The production ran on Broadway from September 12, 2011 to January 22, 2012. She performed in the production at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, in May to June 2012. In 2013, she made her film debut playing Lily in Towheads, which was released on March 27 of that year.
She performed as Philia in Shakespeare Theatre Company's (Washington, DC) production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which ran from November 21, 2013 to January 5, 2014. For the performance, she was nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Musical. She returned to Broadway in March 2015, where she originated the role of Tonia Gromeko in the musical Doctor Zhivago. She appeared in the original Broadway cast of the Roundabout Theatre production of Holiday Inn, playing the principal role of Linda Mason. The musical is based on the musical film of the same name, with music written by Irving Berlin. The musical opened on October 6, 2016.