Kyle Jean-Baptiste was the first black man to play Jean Valjean on Broadway

By Maria Mercedes Lara
August 29, 2015 06:10 PM
Kyle jean-Baptiste

Broadway actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste died Friday evening after reportedly falling from a fire escape at his mother’s home, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 21.

The actor made Broadway history earlier this month when he went out onstage in the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. He had previously served as an understudy and had just wrapped up his final performance with the musical on Thursday.

His death was confirmed to Broadway World in a statement from the company.

“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,” the statement says. “We send our deepest condolences to his family and ask that you respect their privacy in this unimaginably difficult time.”

Jean-Baptiste, who graduated from Baldwin-Wallace University, had documented his history-making turn in Les Misérables and had also shared his excitement about starting a new show.

“That face you make when you get your new shows contract…get ready folks…#pumped,” he wrote last week on Instagram alongside a photo of himself making an excited face while in costume.

He had also shared a before-and-after shot in his Valjean costume ahead of his final show on Thursday.

“Today is my last performance as Valjean on Broadway,” he wrote. “What an incredible experience. I’ve learned and grown so much. Grateful for the people I’ve met and this opportunity. I will never forget it. Dedicating this performance to someone special to me. They know who they are. Also sending love to everyone who supported me. Family friends etc. Until next time.”

Broadway and Hollywood stars have already started to send out their condolences to his family through Twitter.

Lin-Manuel Miranda also announced that he would postpone the Saturday show of #Ham4Ham, his pre-show ahead of his hit new musical Hamilton, out of respect for the young actor. The pair had sung together in #Ham4Ham earlier in the month.

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