In memory of 21-year-old Les Misérables actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who died tragically on August 28, the marquee of Broadway's Imperial Theatre will be dimmed on September 1 at approximately 10:15pm following the evening performance of Les Misérables, the Broadway League announced tonight. 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.
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."
"We mourn the sudden and tragic loss of Kyle Jean-Baptiste, an immensely talented actor who followed his dreams that led to playing the lead role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables on Broadway. He was a rising star who graced our stage for too short a time, but his historic achievements and what he represents for the future will be remembered and honored when the Imperial Theatre dims its lights on Tuesday evening following the show," said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League. "Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans."
A native of Brooklyn and a graduate of the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts, Kyle 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.