Kyle Jean-Baptiste, First Black Actor to Play Valjean on Broadway, Dies

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Les Miserables’ cast member Kyle Jean-Baptiste dies at 21 after fall from fire escape.

NEW YORK — Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the first African-American and youngest person to ever play the role of Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables” on Broadway has died after falling from a fire escape, according to a show spokesman. Les Miserables theatre company said it was “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”. Jean-Baptiste was an understudy for the role but finally made his history-making debut as Valjean – played by Hugh Jackman in the film version – on 23 July.

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 reads. His last performance in the role was Thursday. “Shocked and saddened to have lost one of Broadway’s youngest treasures,” tweeted Tony Award-nominee Joshua Henry. His infectious smile could brighten anyone’s day,” said Kotzen, who was stunned at the news. “Getting thrown into the world of musical theatre was terrifying and at first I didn’t know if I could handle it, but through hard work and perseverance it all came together. Heartbreaking.” Patina Miller, a Tony winner for “Pippin,” said: “My heart goes out to all who knew and loved this incredibly talented young man.” 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.” He also had played Enjolras last year in a production of “Les Misérables” at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. My condolences as well to family and cast.” Jean-Baptiste was a recent graduate of Baldwin Wallace; prior to Broadway he had appeared in a number of regional theater productions, including Les Miserables, Murder Ballad, Singin’ in the Rain and The Music Man.

This incredible team of creatives presented an opportunity to play a part I have dreamed of playing since I was introduced to theatre, and I am forever grateful. I felt a huge amount of responsibility to do right by them and to honor this iconic material.” In one of his last tweets, sent Tuesday, Jean-Baptiste showed gratitude for his friends and fans: “I thank everyone who supported me and still does.

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