See the Crowds Gather to Mourn Kyle Jean-Baptiste As the Lights of the Imperial Theatre Go Dark
In the days since his death, members of the Broadway community had been urging the Broadway League to dim the lights of all Broadway theatres. Traditionally, the lights of Broadway theatres are dimmed when an actor considered a "legend" dies. Jean-Baptiste made history when, at the age of 21, he was the youngest and first African-American to play Jean Valjean in Les Misérables Broadway. The Imperial also put Jean-Baptiste's photo up on its electronic marquee as a crowd of more than 200 applauded.
The Imperial and Richard Rodgers Theatres dimmed their lights on Sept. 1 at 10:15 PM following the Tuesday evening performance. Typically, theatres dim their lights around 8 PM, just as the curtains rise across across Broadway and actors are taking their places to go on. The Imperial and Richard Rodgers Theatres were joined by the Cleveland Playhouse, who also dimmed their lights at 10:15 PM. The League stated that the decision to dim the Imperial's lights at 10:15 PM is in order to allow for members of the Les Miz cast and crew, along with friends and family and other members of the Broadway community to participate.
Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, issued the following statement: "We mourn the sudden and tragic loss of Kyle Jean-Baptiste, an immensely talented actor who followed his dreams that led to playing the lead role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables on Broadway. He was a rising star who graced our stage for too short a time, but his historic achievements and what he represents for the future will be remembered and honored when the Imperial Theatre dims its lights on Tuesday evening following the show. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans."