Such a tragedy. Broadway star Kyle Jean-Baptiste died at the age of 21 on Friday, Aug. 28, the Hollywood Reporter confirms. He passed away after falling from his mother’s fire escape.
Jean-Baptiste was best known for becoming the youngest actor and the first African American to play Jean Valjean in the stage production of Les Miserables.
“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,” Broadway World said in a statement Saturday. “We send our deepest condolences to his family and ask that you respect their privacy in this unimaginably difficult time."
The 6-foot-2 tenor was an understudy for the Jean Valjean role, which was played by Hugh Jackman in the 2012 film adaptation. He had his first show on July 23, and tweeted about his last performance on Aug. 25.
“Thursday is my last Valjean on broadway. The ability to play this part on Broadway has been life changing. I'm so greatful. @LesMizBway,” he wrote at the time. “I thank everyone who supported me and still does. I will never forget this experience. Onwards and upwards ;). Nothing but love.”
Shortly after the news broke, stars paid their respects to the late star via Twitter. “RIP Kyle Jean-Baptiste. My love and hugs to his family. And the cast of @LesMiserables,” Broadway veteran Kristin Chenoweth wrote. Josh Groban added: “He was just getting started. So sad. My condolences as well to family and cast.”
The tragedy also hit home for Ansel Elgort, who grew up with Jean-Baptiste. “I played opposite Kyle Jean-Baptiste in hairspray in high school at Laguardia,” the Insurgent actor tweeted. “What I remember most above his talent was his warmth.”
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