ArtsBeat

Former Idaho Shakespeare company member dies at 21

Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who appeared in Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s “Les Miserables” in 2014 and recently made history as the first African American to sing the role of Jean Valjean on Broadway, died Aug. 29 after an accidental fall from the fire escape of his mother’s Brooklyn home in the early morning hours.

He was 21.

A charismatic young man and a dynamic performer, he played Enjolras, the rousing leader of the student rebellion, in ISF’s “Les Miserables” last summer. He joined the Broadway company of that musical in the ensemble, and played Courfeyrac, one of the other students, and was Ramin Karimloo’s understudy for Valjean.

When he made his debut in the role on July 23 he also became the youngest Jean Valjean in the production’s history. At the time he said: “It feels amazing to be here. I’m so grateful and humbled. It’s a dream come true. I can’t believe they’ve trusted me with this role.”

The production company released a statement:

“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. We send our deepest condolences to his family and ask that you respect their privacy in this unimaginably difficult time.”

Read an article in BroadwayWorld.

Read an article in the New York Daily News.

Watch a video of Jean-Baptiste performing “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables.”

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