Not throwing away her shot: Rider alumnus in “Hamilton”

“Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints. It takes and it takes and it takes and we keep living anyway. We rise and we fall and we break and we make our mistakes,” said Milika Griffiths, a Rider 17’ Alumni, who was part of helping create some of the best productions at Rider.

A few of her works consist of “Beauty and the Beast,” “Ragtime: National Tour” and just recently “Hamilton.” “Hamilton” the musical takes place during the 18th century and follows the story of one of America’s founding fathers, AlexanderHamilton. The musical consists of various different genres such as hip hop, soul and R&B. “Hamilton” won a Pulitzer Prize for drama as well as 11 Tony Awards in 2016.

“All the hard work I put into the process was finally becoming a reality,” stated Griffiths when she first received the news that she would be part of one of Broadway’s most successful musicals.

She had continuously auditioned for the show for a year and finally joined the “And Peggy” company in San Francisco. Moving to the west, Griffiths felt this was “an opportunity to start a new chapter” and “to have a chance to learn.”

Theater professor Miriam Mills had Griffiths as a student and remembered the work ethic that she had put in in the classroom.

“She was always such a positive student, hard-working, kind, talented, creative,” Mills said. “She truly is where she should be — joining one of the most successful musicals in Broadway history.”

Mills reminisced on Griffiths’ work during her time at Rider, remembering a specific production the two worked on together.

“My favorite memory of [Griffiths] was working with her on a production I directed of ‘Machinal,’” Mills recalled. “Her willingness to try anything and everything that I threw at her, she tried and gave each attempt her full commitment.

She was brave, easy to work with, funny and always positive.”

“Ragtime” was Griffiths’ first professional job in 2015. “Ragtime” is a musical that takes place during the 20th century. The production follows three families of different classes and races learning to adapt to America’s evolution during World War I.

Joining “Hamilton,” Griffiths reflects that, “five years later I feel like I am more grounded and can expand on my craft so much more.”

“In Ragtime, I only had one role to focus on. In Hamilton, I am a swing with four roles to learn,” she states when comparing two shows. Griffiths’ job as a swing, an off-stage performer, means she will have to be prepared for her four roles by learning the tracks her roles sing in. There are also times when a swing will have tosing more than one role in a song.

Over the years and through a broad range of performances, Griffiths has learned about herself as a person and an artist.

“The biggest change I’ve noticed is that I am so much more secure with my artistry than when I first started,” she stated.

Griffiths is an example of someone who continuously followed their dreams and showed that it takes a lot of hard work. Opportunities should be taken as a chance to learn and changing is a critical part of it all.

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