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