Kyle Jean-Baptiste : 'Les Miserables' Star, Dies From Fall
Kyle Jean-Baptiste : 'Les Miserables' Star, Dies From Fall

Kyle Jean-Baptiste: ‘Les Miserables’ Star, Dies From Fall ‘Video’

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.

Friends cried and embraced but also laughed at happy memories, standing around smiling photos of Jean-Baptiste. College roommate Sam Wolf, 21, of Harlem, urged those at the gathering to celebrate his “tremendous, tremendous, extraordinarily beautiful life.”

His best friend, Brandyn Day, 22, of lower Manhattan, said Jean-Baptiste, as a college student, believed he would end up on Broadway.

“He said it every day. ‘Dude, I’m going to be on Broadway,’ ” said Day, also an actor. “And he followed ‘Playbill’ like it was his job.”

Jean-Baptiste, who performed in “Les Miz” in Idaho and elsewhere, got the call he’d been cast in the Broadway production a day after graduating from the theater program this spring at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, Day said.

“When he did something, he did it in the biggest possible way,” Day said. “And everyone who knew Kyle loved him. . . . He will never be forgotten.”

A man who said he was a friend of Jean-Baptiste’s family but declined to give his name, recorded a video message from the actor’s friends to his father, Serge Baptiste.

“We send our best, we send our love. All the light in the world to you,” a friend in the group told the actor’s father via the recording.

Jean-Baptiste’s colleagues are raising money for a scholarship in his name at his alma mater and said they had raised $25,000 by the time the memorial service began.

“It’s amazing how this one man without even knowing it beat all the odds and changed the world,” Wolf said of Jean-Baptiste’s career trajectory.

“Kyle did everything he could to help people. Everybody. No matter if they were his best friend or someone he hardly knew, he’d go out of his way,” said college friend, Mickey Ryan, 22, of Harlem. “We knew he was destined for huge things, but we just didn’t know when.”

Of Jean-Baptiste’s role as the lead of “Les Miz” on Broadway, Ryan said: “It was fortunate that it happened while he had time.”


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