Kyle Jean-Baptiste: First black actor to play lead role in Broadway musical 'Les Miserables' dies

The 21-year-old fell from a fire escape

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The Independent Online

Tributes have been paid to Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the first African-American and youngest person to play the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables on Broadway who has died after falling from a fire escape. He was 21.

The Associated Press said Jean-Baptiste died Friday night following the show’s evening performance at the Imperial Theatre, according to representative Marc Thibodeau.

“The entire Les Misérables family is shocked and devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Kyle, a remarkable young talent and tremendous person who made magic — and history — in his Broadway debut. We send our deepest condolences to his family and ask that you respect their privacy in this unimaginably difficult time,” a statement from the production said.

The actor was an ensemble member of the company and an understudy for Valjean, going onstage as the ex-convict in a history-making appearance July 23. His last performance in the role was Thursday.

The Broadway community took to Twitter on Saturday to mourn the loss of a young talent, the AP said.

“Shocked and saddened to have lost one of Broadway’s youngest treasures,” tweeted Tony Award-nominee Joshua Henry.

Teal Wicks, starring in “Finding Neverland,” called him “a new friend and a shining star.”

Jean-Baptiste was born in New York and graduated from Baldwin Wallace University. The 6-foot-2-inch tenor had recently landed two musical roles at Playhouse Square in Cleveland — in Murder Ballad and Love Story.

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