Kyle Jean-Baptiste-Sir-Cameron-Mackintosh

Kyle Jean-Baptiste’s legacy grows larger with a scholarship gift from the Mackintosh Foundation, founded by producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh.

Legacy of Kyle Jean-Baptiste '15 Grows With Mackintosh Foundation Gift

September 3, 2015

Kyle Jean-Baptiste’s legacy grew larger this week as a substantial gift from the Mackintosh Foundation, founded by acclaimed producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, helped to launch the official BW scholarship bearing Jean-Baptiste's name. In the aftermath of the rising Broadway performer’s untimely death, both BW classmates and the Mackintosh Foundation were moved to establish a BW music theatre scholarship in Jean-Baptiste's honor. 

Together, an alumni-led crowd-funding campaign, initiated "to make something good come from this tragedy," and the extraordinary gesture of honor and generosity from the Mackintosh Foundation, have now raised more than $135,000 for The Kyle Jean-Baptiste '15 Music Theatre Scholarship at BW.

Generous Gift Extends the Dream of a "Rare Talent"

Kyle Jean-Baptiste-Sir-Cameron-MackintoshThe endowed scholarship "has been established at his alma mater … to carry forward Kyle's legacy and benefit music theatre students" like the gifted tenor, with the broad smile and big heart, who made Broadway history in July as the first African-American and youngest actor to play the lead in Les Misérables on the Great White Way.

Among the earliest donations to the scholarship is a substantial gift from the Mackintosh Foundation, founded by Sir Cameron Mackintosh, producer of some of the world's longest-running musicals, including Les Misérables. Jean-Baptiste was thrilled to meet Mackintosh when the celebrated producer attended the 21-year-old actor's history-making turn as Jean Valjean in July, flashing his trademark megawatt smile in a backstage photo of the pair.

"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," said Mackintosh. "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."

An Honor Usually Reserved for Legends

As Jean-Baptiste prepared to take on a new Broadway role in The Color Purple, a tragic accidental fall from a Brooklyn, N.Y. fire escape dimmed his star too soon on Aug. 29. 

Playhouse Square lights dimmed for KyleOn Tuesday night, Sept. 1, marquee lights were dimmed in tribute on Broadway at the Imperial and Richard Rodgers Theatres and across Playhouse Square in Cleveland. Playhouse Square executive producer Gina Vernaci told The Plain Dealer, "The dimming of marquees is an honor usually reserved for legends in the industry. Kyle certainly exhibited all of the characteristics of someone who could have achieved that rank. However, a long career was not in the stars for him.

"Since we last saw Kyle on our stages in 'Murder Ballad,' his story has been remarkable," she continued. "And for those who knew him, he was admired for his special gift as a performer — but more importantly he was LOVED for being such a warm and caring young man. There is no real right way to help those who are feeling this loss."

Making a Gift to the Kyle Jean-Baptiste '15 Music Theatre Scholarship

Chris McCarrell '13 TweetTo make a scholarship gift in his memory directly through BW's Advancement Office, you’re asked to please make your check payable to Baldwin Wallace University, note "Kyle Jean-Baptiste MT Scholarship" on the memo line and send to Baldwin Wallace University, c/o Advancement Services, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, Ohio 44017.

To make an electronic gift, go to www.b-wcommunity.net/give; in the designation dropdown, select "Kyle Jean-Baptiste" and follow the prompts. For more information, call 440-826-2750.