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. (Video shared by Howard Sherman.)
Here is a selection of responses, tributes and farewells posted on social media in connection with the tribute.
— Bway Understudies (@understudies) September 2, 2015
An amazing tribute at the end of the night pic.twitter.com/id4112mHjr
— Les Misérables (@LesMizBway) September 2, 2015
— Broadway Black (@BroadwayBlack) September 2, 2015
A photo posted by Marty Thomas (@martythomaslovesyou) on
Let no one ever say that youth cannot change the world. Let no one ever say that theatre is not a force to be reckoned with. #Dim4Kyle
— Blessedterns (@Blessedterns) September 2, 2015
— Briana C-G (@BCeeGee) September 2, 2015
— Hamilton (@HamiltonMusical) September 2, 2015
A video posted by Frank DiLella (@fdilella) on
— Sara Goldenberg (@SaraGoldenberg) September 2, 2015
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."
Twitter account Annoying Actor Friend (@Actor_Friend), who provides a satirical look at what it's like to survive as a working New York actor — and is followed by numerous members of the Broadway community — was among the first to call for the lights being dimmed in honor of Jean-Baptiste. He also championed for lights to be dimmed in honor of Joan Rivers following her death.