Broadway star Kyle Jean-Baptiste dies after fall

New York, Aug 30 (IANS) Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the first African-American and youngest actor to play the role of Jean Valjean on Broadway’s “Les Miserables”, has died in New York after he fell from a fire escape. He was 21.

Jean-Baptiste died on Friday after falling from the fire escape following the show’s evening performance, reports aceshowbiz.com.

New York Police Department investigated the incident and believed it was accidental.

Police said Jean-Baptiste was sitting on a fourth-floor fire escape of an apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood of Brooklyn with a 23-year-old woman on Friday night.

He stood up, slipped and fell backward. The official cause of death will be determined later by a medical examiner.

The show’s representative Marc Thibodeau called it a “tragic accident”, adding: “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.”

Jean-Baptiste joined the Broadway cast in May as an understudy, only a day after graduating with a degree in music theatre from Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio.

He made his debut as Jean Valjane on Broadway’s “Les Miserables” on July 23.

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