Broadway actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste has died after falling off his mother’s fire escape. He was 21.
Jean-Baptiste made Broadway history as the understudy for “Les Miserables” character Jean Valjean. When Jean-Baptiste stepped into the role, he became both the youngest actor to do so and the first African-American actor to play Valjean on Broadway. When he was not filling in as Valjean, the actor played the roles of Constable and Courfeyrac in the musical.
The company of “Les Mis” released the following statement on Jean-Baptiste’s death: “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. We send our deepest condolences to his family and ask that you respect their privacy in this unimaginably difficult time.”
Broadway veteran Kristin Chenoweth tweeted her condolences, sending her “love and hugs to his family” and the “Les Mis” cast.
RIP Kyle Jean-Baptiste. My love and hugs to his family. And the cast of @LesMiserables
— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) August 29, 2015
Josh Groban followed suit, remarking that Jean-Baptiste “was just getting started. So sad.”
He was just getting started. So sad. My condolences as well to family and cast. https://t.co/1q6r0wmG1f
— josh groban (@joshgroban) August 29, 2015
Other notables also shared their condolences via Twitter:
R.I.P. Kyle Jean-Baptiste. Gone way too soon. All my thoughts & prayers are with his family & the cast of @LesMizBway.
— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) August 29, 2015
This tragedy shows that people can go in an instant, while we are here we must chase our dreams. Kyle did and he made history.
— Ansel (@AnselElgort) August 29, 2015
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) August 29, 2015