Broadway's Imperial Theatre Dims Its Lights for Kyle Jean-Baptiste
In memory of 21-year-old Les Misérables actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who died tragically this past weekend, the marquee lights of Broadway's Imperial Theatre were dimmed on September 1 at 10:15pm in tribute. A massive crowd gathered outside the Imperial and heartily applauded Jean-Baptiste's memory and accomplishments.
The young actor made history on July 23 when he became the first African-American actor, and the youngest person ever, to play Jean Valjean in a Broadway production of Les Misérables. A native of Brooklyn and a graduate of the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts, Jean-Baptiste attended Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio where he starred in numerous productions. The day after his graduation, he was hired to join the ensemble of Les Misérables and understudy the role of Jean Valjean, joining the production on June 23. Kyle was scheduled to depart Les Misérables on September 6 to join the new Broadway production of The Color Purple.
Producer Cameron Mackintosh made the following statement: "The tragic loss of Kyle to our company, just as he was on the threshold of a brilliant career, is a numbing reminder of how precious life is. His spirit was infinite and his voice from God — we are all so sad not to have spent more time with him, for he truly was a rare talent and a special person. Our loss is heaven's gain and our prayers are with his family and friends."