Kyle Jean-Baptiste, The First Black Actor To Play Jean Valjean In ‘Les Miserables,’ Dies At 21

08.30.15 3 years ago

Kyle Jean-Baptiste/YouTube

In some truly tragic news from the Broadway world, Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the youngest actor to ever play the iconic lead role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables and the first black actor to do so, died in a fall on Friday night. At just 21 years old, he was originally cast as Courfeyrac when he joined the show this past May, but served as the understudy for Jean Valjean. He made his debut as Valjean on July 23 and wrapped up his run just this past Thursday.

The day after that performance, he apparently had an accident at his mother’s home and died after a fall from the fire escape.

Jean-Baptiste was very active on social media and often expressed his excitement at playing his dream role, leading up to his final performance as Jean Valjean:

Here is a photo during his final curtain call:

Jean-Baptiste had just graduated from Baldwin Wallace University when he was invited to join the cast of Les Misérables, which would be his Broadway debut. When Ramin Karimloo, the actor who regularly played Jean Valjean, went on vacation, he paved the way for the young actor to make history.

While it’s not the best video, there is some footage of Jean-Baptiste’s final performance in the lead role:

He also performed “The Confrontation” with a fellow actor, Brady Love, outside the theater, no doubt entertaining people passing by:

While Broadway mourns the loss of someone who so clearly had such a dazzling future ahead of him, it will be painful to think of what could have been for such a talented young actor.

Source: CNN, BBC

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