Meet the Theater MFA Candidates

Explore the links below to learn more about each of our MFA Alumni and the array of projects and pursuits each is involved in on the stage, behind the scenes at Temple Theaters, and beyond! 

The Department of Theater offers Master of Fine Arts degrees in ActingDirectingDesignPlaywriting and the Abbott MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration. 

Students in these programs are trained by professional faculty who are accomplished in their field, to learn, create and teach. MFA students work together in the classroom, on projects, and in the theater to create innovative, professional, and diverse theatrical experiences.

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Theater MFA Alumni 2020-21

*denotes Member of the Abbott MFA Musical Theater Collaboration Cohort

*JASON AGUIRRE, MFA Musical Theater Collaboration

MFA Musical Theater Collaboration, Concentration: Directing
Graduate Certificate: Teaching in Higher Education

Jason (he/him/el) is a New York-based Mexican-American Director, Choreographer, and Librettist specializing in new musical development and immersive works. He is a candidate for the George and Joy Abbott MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration at Temple University, studies with the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Librettist Workshop, and a recipient of Temple University’s Future Faculty Fellowship. Jason has also studied with The Upright Citizens Brigade, The Groundlings, and the Broadway Dance Center Professional Semester. As a writer and performer, he has worked at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, Ars Nova, and with 5 Senses Theatre’s KRAV. Musicals in development include SICK MOVES! (OR THE DANCING PLAGUE OF 1518) – a pop/rock musical comedy reimagining of the mysterious dancing plague, A TRIP TO THE MOON – a rock-operetta inspired by Georges Méliès LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE, and BRANDED – a Sci-Fi musical comedy about identity politics in the 21st Century. 


MFA Design, Concentration: Scenic Design

Kayla Arrell is a Scenic Designer, Artist, and student within the Scenic Design MFA program. Upon graduating with a B.A. in Theatre Production & Design from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA, Kayla designed a production of The Odd Couple for Ephrata Performing Arts Center (EPAC) before working as a Scenic Artist at Sight & Sound Theatres. Prior to pursuing her MFA, Kayla worked as the Scenic Charge Artist and a Scenic Designer for the Department of Theatre Arts at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA where she designed sets for Arsenic & Old Lace, Sweet & Hot: The Songs of Harold Arlen, and As it is in Heaven. In addition to theatre, Kayla has worked as part of the Art Department for three independent films and hopes to add more to her resume in the future.


MFA Design, Concentration: Lighting and Projection

James W. Bilnoski is a Lighting, Projection and Scenic Designer working towards his M.F.A. in Theatrical Design at Temple University, Philadelphia. Based in New England, he has worked around the country designing for plays, opera’s and events.

*SPICER W. CARR, MFA Musical Theater Collaboration
MFA Musical Theater Collaboration, Concentration: Composer/Lyricist
Graduate Certificate: Teaching in Higher Education

Spicer W. Carr (He/Him) is a Philadelphia based Composer-Lyricist, specializing in Opera, Musical Theater, and Theatre for Young Audiences. As a queer, autistic writer, Spicer seeks out similarly underrepresented voices, and uses his unique perspective to help explore their stories. Current projects include The Rocking Boy, a semi-autobiographical children’s musical about growing up with autism and the meaning of friendship; Chance the Snapper, a coming of age musical based on the events surrounding the infamous 2019 Humboldt Park Lagoon gator; and Bloom, an environmental children’s opera about pollution and the Florida algae blooms. Spicer’s vocal catalogue includes song cycles (Dreams, Dead or Alive), musicals (Downpour), and operettas (Jack and the Beanstalk). His Instrumental work includes pieces for piano (Of no Concern), big band (Lunch Rush), and a violin concerto (Daydreams). Spicer’s work has been developed and performed by The TYE Center, Utah Valley University Chamber Symphony, Utah Valley University Jazz Orchestra, Secondary Players, MusiCoLab, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Temple University Theater, and The Purple Crayon Players.

MFA Acting

Gabriel is finishing his MFA in Acting from Temple University, and despises all nicknames ever conceived for him. An Oregon native, born and raised in the pacific northwest where he attended his undergrad, he strives to find the complexity of human nature through language. With a strong passion for classical work and its ability to address the sociopolitical problems that face our world today, he spends a good deal of his free time expanding upon and exploring Elizabethan drama.

His most recent work includes Dr. Thomas Stockman from An Enemy of the People, Oberon from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jules from Sunday in the Park with George, and Corin from the World Premiere of SOMEWHERE, by Marisela Treviño Orta.

*RACHEL GRAF EVANS, MFA Musical Theater Collaboration

MFA Musical Theater Collaboration, Concentration: Book Writer/Librettist
Graduate Certificate: Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Graduate Certificate: Teaching in Higher Education

Rachel Graf Evans (she/her) is a writer and theatre artist currently based in Philadelphia, PA. A dual MFA Candidate, RGE is in her final term as a graduate Bookwriter/Librettist in the inaugural cohort of the George and Joy Abbott MFA Musical Theater Collaboration Studio at Temple University. She is also a graduate Playwright in the Hollins Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University. 

Prior to her graduate studies, RGE created theatre in Atlanta and NYC. In Atlanta, she was a co-winner of the 2018 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award for Georgia Playwrights for her play BUILT TO FLOAT. RGE has served as the Dramatists Guild Regional Ambassador for Atlanta, was the Alliance Theatre's 2017-18 Literary Intern, and was a 2016-17 Playwright Apprentice at Horizon Theatre Company. In NYC, RGE has worked in various capacities (including as playwright, producer, props designer, and performer) with New Georges, LCT3 at Lincoln Center, PowerOutNYC, Hot Pepper Theatre, Fresh Fruit Festival, and Theatre for the New City's Dream Up! Festival. 

RGE is a proud member of Ring of Keys, Working Title Playwrights, New Play Exchange, Page by Page, and the Dramatists Guild. B.A. with High Honors: Theatre/Gender, Sexuality, & Feminist Studies (Oberlin College). 
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MFA Acting


MFA Directing

Rose Freeman teaches, stage directs, and produces theatrical performance in multiple performance mediums. Favorite recent projects include development for a book on Acting Methods for Opera, writing a musical about an alligator in Chicago, associate directing TL;DR for Sherri Eden Barber at the 2020 Rhinebeck Writers Virtual Residency, Stage Directing Strauss' Die Liebe Der Danae at Pittsburgh Opera Festival, directing Jaclyn Backhaus' Men on Boats through Temple University, directing an interactive production about cults called Cornerstone with Nothing Without A Company (member emeritus), and staging Vic Mensa’s homecoming Lollapalooza concert. Freeman serves as a teaching artist at University of the Art’s Polyphone New Musical Festival and is a 2020 and 2021 Directing Fellow at Wolf Trap Opera. Currently teaching and pursuing her MFA in directing with the inaugural Music Theatre Collaboration program at Temple University, Freeman has created national fine art shows for M Gallery of Fine Art, served as managing producing director for Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, event managed the largest publicly available sailing fleet in the US, and production managed a national tour for Feld Entertainment’s Monster Jam Monster Truck Show. Rose is an ensemble member of Third Eye Theatre Ensemble in Chicago and regularly directs their operas.


MFA Acting


MFA Acting

With a conservatory style training, Terrance has worked extensively in professional and collegiate films as well as theater.

Recently he played Captain Richard Davenport in the Pulitzer Prize winning play “A Soldier’s Play” at the Virginia Arts Festival, directed by Anthony Stockard. At that point, it was the first officially licensed staged play since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic. He has also been seen playing the role of Pit in the action-packed short film “Jojo and Pit”, written and directed by Steven Michael of Steven Michael Studios. He also played the role of Hovstad, from Anton Chekhov’s “An Enemy of the People”, directed by Marcus Giamatti.

He has trained extensively under Fitzmaurice voice technique masters such as Lynne Innerst, Melanie Julian, and Donna Snow at Temple University’s MFA Acting program. He has studied the Alexander Technique under Diane Gaary, masterclasses of On-camera acting by Marcus Giamatti, Stage combat (hand to hand and single sword) under Ian Rose, Chekhov technique by David Ingram and Amina Robinson, Shakespeare under Cheryl Williams, Le coq under Emmanuelle Delpech, and the Margolis method under Maggie Anderson.

Terrance also has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Norfolk State University and has volunteered his services in multiple campaigns and elections. He was also a star linebacker at a NCAA Division I football program amassing All-Conference awards in his senior year.

He cannot wait to become the next household name on the stage and on the big screen, performing next to the highly respected actors of our lifetime.

MFA Acting

Garrett McCord has received his Master's Degree in Acting from Temple University, where he worked with professors Douglas Wager, Marcus Giamatti, and Lynne Innerst. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from Western Michigan University. He was last seen in recent productions of An Enemy of the People, A Midsummer Nights' Dream, and the world premiere of the play Somehwere by Marisela Trevino Orta. Garrett is looking forward to working at Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre beginning August 2021 in their productions of Murder on the Orient Express, Our Town, and Charley's Aunt.
*ADAM J. RINEER, MFA Musical Theater Collaboration

MFA Musical Theater Collaboration, Concentration: Composer/Lyricist
Graduate Certificate: Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Graduate Certificate: Teaching in Higher Education

ADAM J. RINEER (he/him/they/them) is a Philadelphia/NYC based Composer, Lyricist, Librettist, and Music Director. As a creator and facilitator of music in theatre, Adam tells stories that examine “otheredness”, queer social norms, and teach empathy accessibly through a wide range of music styles. They are constantly looking to bridge musical theatre and popular music by combining the theatricality that exists in both worlds.

Their musicals include ​The Naked Truth​ (The Green Room 42, The West End Lounge), ​Obscene Lewd Lascivious and Filthy!​ (NAMT 15-minute Musical Contest Winner, The Latest Draft Podcast), ​A Trip To The Moon​ (The Maas Building), ​Ghosted​ (featured at NYMF), Sick Moves! (or The Dancing Plague of 1518),​ and ​BrandedTM!​. Adam’s songs have been featured in “A Little New Music” (LA new musical theatre series) and New York Musical Festival concerts. They are a founding member of Theatre Now New York's National Musical Writers Group.

Adam also contributed songs to the second season of the award-winning web series Merce, one of which POZ Magazine named the 2017 World AIDS Day Anthem.

Adam’s work as a Music Director and Pianist has taken them all over the Northeast Region including Prima Theatre, Gretna Theatre, Interlakes Summer Theatre, and various NYC cabarets and concert performances in addition to residency at the Bay View Music Festival in Michigan and Norwegian Cruise Lines as MD for For The Record: The Brat Pack. Adam will also be working on Goodspeed's upcoming production of South Pacific as the Associate Music Director.

Adam graduated with a B.A. in Music with an emphasis in Piano Performance from Millersville University. They are a third-year M.F.A. candidate in the George and Joy Abbott Musical Theatre collaboration program as well as part of the Graduate Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program at Temple University in Philadelphia. Adam is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild.


MFA Acting

Parker Sera is an actor, theatre maker, deviser, writer, and teaching artist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Parker is drawn to stories that teach us about ourselves and one another, and guide us toward a better world. She especially enjoys Shakespeare, workshopping new plays, and anything with puppets or singing.

She is a former company member of Minneapolis feminist comedy collective Raw Sugar, and has performed in Minneapolis at the Red Eye Theatre, the Sandbox Theatre, Collective Unconscious, Little Lifeboats, and Shoot the Glass theatre, among others. She has a BFA in Musical Theatre from the Santa Fe University of Art & Design, but she is not that good at dancing. Her poetry has appeared in online magazines and in print.

*PATRICK TICE-CARROLL, MFA Musical Theater Collaboration

MFA Musical Theater Collaboration
MA, Musical Theater Studies '20 

Patrick is an active music director, conductor, and pianist based in Philadelphia, PA. Drawing on many years of cross-disciplinary training, Patrick brings an informed and sensitive ear into any production, rehearsal, or performance.

Beginning his musical journey with Suzuki Method violin in pre school, Patrick switched to piano at age 5. From then, his fascination with the different instruments grew wild, leading him to some level of training in the vast majority of orchestral instruments, including organ. Throughout high school, he began training in jazz piano, alongside classical, leading him to study with various teachers at University of the Arts and Temple University. It was in high school that Patrick found his passion for theater, bringing him to Temple University, where his undergraduate training combined jazz and classical piano, conducting, theater, and music technology.

Patrick is a current graduate student at Temple University, pursuing an MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration.


MFA Design, Concentration: Scenic Design


MFA Design, Concentration: Lighting and Projection 

Riley Woods, lighting designer, is a third year grad student in the Lighting and Projection Design program at Temple University. Riley grew up in North Manchester, Indiana and has a BA in Theater from Goshen College. Previous designs at Temple include the opera The Elixir of Love (2019), and Fabulation, or the Reeducation of Undine (2019). Other favorite past designs include Mother Hicks (2018), Legally Blonde (2017), Julius Caesar (2016), Godspell (2015), and Eurydice (2014). Another favorite design is for the show Kindertransport (2017), which won a Certificate of Merit from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Riley had been working on, and was mostly finished with, the show The Country Wife for the spring of the 2019-2020 season at Temple when campus was closed in March of 2020, so the show and its design were not able to be seen in its entirety. Riley was also assistant lighting designer for the 2019 summer season at the Ohio Light Opera in Wooster, Ohio, and plans to return next summer for the third year. Ohio Light Opera has a seven-show rotating repertory season each summer, focusing on operetta and musical theater, especially works from Gilbert and Sullivan.

When outside of the theater, Riley likes to spend time outside, play tennis, and try new vegetarian food. Philadelphia is Riley’s first home in a city, and outside the Midwest, so exploring the city is also fun.

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