Pressure is mounting on theatre members of the Broadway League to dim their venues’ lights in honour of the late Les Misérables performer Kyle Jean-Baptiste.
A rapidly-growing campaign is tweeting the hashtag ‘#dim4kyle’ in support of the move. The Broadway League is traditionally resistant to granting the honour: last year it turned down appeals to mark the death of Joan Rivers only to relent.
So far it has released no statement in response to the campaign on behalf of Jean-Baptiste but it is believed one will be released on Monday outlining its decision.
Kyle Jean-Baptiste died tragically at the age of 21 on 29 August, little more than one month after making history by debuting as the youngest and first African-American performer to play the part of Jean Valjean in the revival of Les Misérables at the Imperial Theatre.
It is believed that Jean-Baptiste fell from a fourth floor fire escape while visiting his mother’s home. He was taken to Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Centre where he was pronounced dead.
Tributes to the young star have flooded in from the Broadway community. Colleague Ramin Karimloo wrote on Twitter: “Today we lost a great talent. Today I lost a friend. Such promise and a wonderful spirit. He came and conquered. RIP brother.”
In its statement, the Broadway Les Misérables company said:“The entire Les Misérables 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.”
* Students at Baldwin Wallace University, where Kyle Jean-Baptiste attended, are also launching a scholarship in the actor’s name. Donations have already started to come in.