Attorney takes stage in 'Les Misérables'
Jeffrey Kemperman is an attorney by day and an actor by night.
Kemperman, an associate at Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge in Grand Rapids, is part of the ensemble cast for the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s production of “Les Misérables,” which opened on Feb. 27 and runs through Sunday.
He takes on several roles in the production, including a prison guard, soldier, thug and a wedding guest.
Kemperman said that acting was one of the many pursuits he didn’t have time for as a felony prosecutor in Denver — and one of the reasons he’s so happy in his new position at the firm and to have moved back to Michigan.
“When I was in Denver, I was in court pretty much daily, twice a day. I'd be in trial pretty much all the time,” Kemperman said. “I was constantly bringing work home. I worked on the weekends and at night. When you do those sorts of things, unfortunately, a lot of other things have to fall by the wayside.”
Moving to Smith Haughey 18 months ago has allowed Kemperman time for his hobbies.
The firm, like several others in town, promotes a healthy work-life balance, and encourages its attorneys to enjoy their life outside of work.
“They do preach that work-life balance. Yes, work hard, but also live your life hard as well,” Kemperman said. “That is something that I think a lot of people here really take to heart. It’s refreshing to work with people that actually do have outside lives.”
Out of the office
Kemperman was not an actor when he returned to Michigan, but quickly found himself cast in his first production, “The Wedding Singer,” and bit by the acting bug.
“It was kind of a whim that I auditioned for it,” Kemperman explained. “I guess I’d been talking to a friend about bucket list types of things I’d always wanted to try. . . . And she said auditions are coming up. You have about a month to prepare — I’ll walk you through what you need to do. So I auditioned for ‘The Wedding Singer’ at Circle Theatre and made it in and absolutely fell in love with it.”
Kemperman said that being part of “Les Misérables” has been terrific, and he noted the sellout audiences.
And Kemperman has already landed his next part. He’ll be in Circle Theatre’s summer production of “Spamalot.”
When he isn’t acting, Kemperman indulges in his other favorite hobbies: ice hockey and serving as a team mascot.
“I’m an avid hockey player, so I fill in for two hockey teams in the area and try to get out on the ice as much as I can,” Kemperman said. “I was also a collegiate and professional mascot. While I went to GVSU and MSU, I was their mascot, then I had a pro career in the NHL as a mascot. So I’ve come back here and gotten involved in that, coaching some people at Grand Valley, and I still do some periodic work for the Griffins.”
Kemperman noted that the best part about working for a firm that promotes a healthy work-life balance is being able to be spontaneous, saying yes when opportunities come his way.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said.