1st African-American actor to play Valjean on Broadway dies

1st African-American actor to play Valjean on Broadway dies

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NEW YORK — Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the first African-American and youngest person to ever play the role of Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables” on Broadway has died after falling from a fire escape, according to a show spokesman.

He was 21. Jean-Baptiste died Saturday following the show’s evening performance at the Imperial Theatre, said representative Marc Thibodeau, who called it a “tragic accident.”

“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.

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

The actor was an ensemble member of the company and an understudy for Valjean, going onstage as the ex-convict in a history-making appearance July 23.

His last performance in the role was Thursday. A spokeswoman for the New York Police Department said investigators believe Jean-Baptiste’s death was accidental.

According to police, Jean-Baptiste was sitting on a fourth-floor fire escape of an apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn with a 23-year-old woman Friday night when he stood up, slipped and then fell backward to the ground. – AP

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