The Broadway community mourns the loss of actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who passed away early Saturday morning at age 21. The marquee of Broadway’s Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street, will be dimmed in his memory on Tuesday, September 1 at approximately 10:15 pm following the evening performance of Les Misérables where he made history on July 23 when he became the first African American actor, and the youngest person ever, to play the lead role of Jean Valjean in the Broadway production of Les Misérables.
The lights will be dimmed at the front of the theatre (on the 45th Street marquee) following the evening performance so that all of the Les Misérables cast and crew, as well as Kyle’s friends and family and other members of the Broadway community, may join in the tribute.
“The tragic loss of Kyle to our company, just as he was on the threshold of a brilliant career, is a numbing reminder of how precious life is,” said producer Cameron Mackintosh. “His spirit was infinite and his voice from God—we are all so sad not to have spent more time with him, for he truly was a rare talent and a special person. Our loss is heaven’s gain and our prayers are with his family and friends.”
“We mourn the sudden and tragic loss of Kyle Jean-Baptiste, an immensely talented actor who followed his dreams that led to playing the lead role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables on Broadway. He was a rising star who graced our stage for too short a time, but his historic achievements and what he represents for the future will be remembered and honored when the Imperial Theatre dims its lights on Tuesday evening following the show,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. “Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans.”
A native of Brooklyn and a graduate of the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts, Kyle Jean-Baptiste attended Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio where he starred in numerous productions. The day after his graduation, he was hired to join the ensemble of Les Misérables and understudy the role of Jean Valjean, joining the production on June 23rd. Kyle was scheduled to depart Les Misérables on September 6 to join the new Broadway production of The Color Purple.
The Kyle Jean-Baptiste ’15 Music Theatre Scholarship has been established at his alma mater, Baldwin Wallace University, to carry forward Kyle’s legacy and benefit music theatre students. To make a gift in memory of Kyle, please make your check payable to Baldwin Wallace University, note “Kyle Jean-Baptiste MT Scholarship” on the memo line and send to Baldwin Wallace University, c/o Advancement Services, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, Ohio 44017. To make an electronic gift, go to https://www.b-wcommunity.net/give, in the designation dropdown, select Kyle Jean-Baptiste, and follow the prompts. For more information, please call 440-826-2750.