Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who starred in Les Miserables on Broadway, has died in a tragic accident. His friends and family are devastated about the death of the young actor who was so talented and was likely going to see huge success in his future. He was only 21 when he got a starring role as as Jean Valjean. There’s no word yet on when the funeral will be.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Jean-Baptiste Fell Off a Fire Escape & Died
Jean-Baptiste was only 21 years old and had just finished a run as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. In a tragic accident, he fell off a fire escape at his mother’s home and died, BroadwayWorld reported. The company released a statement about what happened:
The entire LES MISERABLES 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…”
2. He Was the Youngest Actor & First African-American to Play Jean Valjean in ‘Les Miserables’ on Broadway
Jean-Baptiste was the youngest actor to ever play the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway, Playbill reported. He was also the first African-American to have the role on Broadway. He had only started the role on July 23 and his first debut on Broadway was June 23. Before going on stage, he tweeted:
Jean-Baptiste was officially the understudy for the role of Valjean, and he appeared for Tony-nominated Ramin Karimloo, Cleveland.com reported. Alfie Boe was taking over the role on September 1, but Jean-Baptiste would remain his understudy for the role. Jean-Baptiste also played Constable Courfeyrac in Les Miserables, according to the Les Mis website. In an interview with Cleveland.com, Jean-Baptist said that playing Valjean was a dream role of his since he first got involved in music theater.
Jean-Baptiste’s last day as Valjean was on August 27 and September 6 was to be his last performance with Les Miserables, according to his Facebook profile. He was slated to star with Jennifer Hudson in The Color Purple revival.
3. Jean-Baptiste Had Just Graduated When He Was Picked for the Role
Jean-Baptiste had just graduated one day earlier from Baldwin Wallace University when he was snapped up to be a part of Les Miserables, Cleveland.com reported. He was a 6-foot-2 tenor who was perfect for the role. Jean-Baptiste had a music theater degree and had played the role of Enjolras, a rebel lead, in Les Miserables at Hanna Theater for Baldwin Wallace University. Even then, reporters predicted that agents would be “swooning” over him.
In Jean-Baptiste’s audition for the role on Broadway, he was asked to sing “The Prayer,” a song where Valjean pleads with God to spare Marius’s life. The team was amazed at his rendition of the difficult song and said they wanted to get him before 12 other Broadway productions did, according to Cleveland.com. To get a taste of how talented he was, here he is singing “Rise” by Kerrigan-Lowdermilk in the video below:
4. Jean-Baptiste Was Incredibly Thankful for His Opportunities
On his Facebook page, Jean-Baptiste often talked about how thankful he was for his opportunities. On August 25, he posted: “The experiences and the things I have learned, while a part of this cast, are invaluable and will never be forgotten. I have grown as a performer and as an individual. I am grateful that the creative team trusted me and continued to push me to achieve my potential throughout the entire process that is Les Miserables.”
Jean-Baptiste was also always up for a laugh. In this video below, posted on August 15, he performed in a #Ham4Ham, facing off with Lin-Manuel Miranda and singing “The Confrontation.”
5. His Friends, Family & Fans Are Mourning His Death
Jean-Baptiste’s friends, family, and fans are shocked by his untimely death and devastated. Here are a few of their posts.