Broadway is mourning the sudden loss of one of its rising stars. Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who made history after becoming the first black actor to take the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, died after falling from a fire escape. Aged 21, he signed to the show in May just after graduating with a degree in musical theatre from a university in Ohio.
Kyle Jean-Baptiste made history as the first black actor to take the lead role
News of the tragic accident was confirmed by production spokesman Marc Thibodeau, who also paid tribute to his talent.
"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," read a statement from the production. "We send our deepest condolences to his family and ask that you respect their privacy in this unimaginably difficult time."
Kyle was hired to play the roles of the constable and Courfeyrac - as well as being the understudy for Jean Valjean. When leading man Ramin Karimloo went on holiday he stepped in to fill his shoes in what he described as his "dream role" ever since he was a little boy.
The appearance was billed with the Twitter hashtag #blackValjean. Kyle was also the youngest actor ever to take on the role. Afterwards he tweeted:"Thank you for all the love! Last night was one of the best nights of my life".
Stars such as Debra Messing, Kristin Chenoweth and Josh Groban paid tribute to the young talent. Josh wrote: "He was just getting started. So sad."
Ansel Elgort said: "I played opposite Kyle Jean-Baptiste in Hairspray in high school at Laguardia. What I remember most above his talent was his warmth."
Tony award winner Josh Henry said: ""Shocked and saddened to have lost one of Broadway's youngest treasures."