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Broadway Star Dies in Fire Escape Fall, Police Say

By Camille Bautista | August 31, 2015 10:45am
 Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who was the first African-American and youngest actor to play the role of Valjean on Broadway's
Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who was the first African-American and youngest actor to play the role of Valjean on Broadway's "Les Miserables," died Saturday after accidentally falling from a fire escape.
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Broadway actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who made his debut in the revival of “Les Misérables,” died Saturday after falling from a Brooklyn fire escape, police said.

The 21-year-old was sitting on a fourth-floor fire escape on Greene Avenue when he stood up and slipped, falling to the street, according to reports.

There was no criminality involved, an NYPD spokesman said.

Jean-Baptiste made history when he became the first African-American and the youngest actor to play the lead role of Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables” this summer, Playbill reported.

"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," the show's producer Cameron Mackintosh said. 

"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."

In a curtain call Saturday, cast members paid tribute to Jean-Baptiste and dedicated the production to the young actor, calling him a “rising star” and a “tornado of energy.”

The actor’s last performance as Valjean was on Thursday and he was scheduled to join the Broadway cast of "The Color Purple," according to reports.

“What an incredible experience. I’ve learned and grown so much,” the Brooklyn native said in an Instagram post. “Grateful for the people I’ve met and this opportunity. I will never forget it.”

"With a smile 'yay wide', a heart worn on his sleeve, and a song always on his lips, he walked with us for 21 years. To say he will be missed would be an understatement. Our pain has no boundaries," his mother, Sonia Jean-Baptiste, said in a statement.

"His talent was boundless and his light was so bright. We are grateful for each and every day we got to spend with him. His energy will live on in each of us."

His sister, Kelsey Jean-Baptiste, took to social media Saturday in memory of her older brother.

“Thanks for being me [sic] rock when I was weak, my best friend who never left me, and simply the best brother a girl can have,” she wrote.

A public memorial is planned for Monday afternoon at Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain. Services will be private, according to the family.