Michael A. Musial, M.M.

Edith McCrae Professor of Fine Arts; Professor of Music
TIS Resident Director/Music Director, Managing Director of the Theatre Institute at Russell Sage

Michael Musial is past Chair of the Creative and Performing Arts Department as well as the coordinator of the Musical Theatre and Theatre Programs at Russell Sage College. Music directing credits include Candide, Children of Eden, The Secret Garden, A Chorus Line, Into the Woods and Sweeney Todd. He music directed A Tale of Cinderella for NYSTI’s 2001 New York State tour and was musical director for their 2002 world premiere production of Magna Carta. A member of the duo-piano team Musial and Musial, he is also the director of the Sage Singers.


David Baecker, M.F.A.

Professor of Theatre, TIS Resident Director 

David BaeckerDavid Baecker is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Russell Sage College. He is also a communications coach with the New York State Defenders Institute and teaches for the Arts Center of the Capital District. Past Sage productions include Twelfth Night, Nymph Errant, Noises Off, The Threepenny Opera, Nickel and Dimed, Stop Kiss, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Boston Marriage, Anton in Show Business, Proof, The Turn of the Screw, The Visit, Whose Life Is It Anyway? and Cell Cycle. Locally, David has directed a staged reading Jack Casey’s The Trial of Bat Shea for the Rensselaer County Historical Society, Humble Boy for Theatre Voices, a staged reading of Silence in a Circular Rainbow for NYSTI and a cabaret for the Rensselaer County Republican Party. He has also acted as producer for Leigh Strimbeck’s production of MIRROR MIRROR and director for Byron Nilsson’s Mr. Sensitivity at the New York Fringe Festival. For the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School in Colorado, David has directed Nickel and Dimed, The Laramie Project, Mad Forest, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, The Overcoat, Peter Pan and The Wind in the Willows. As an actor, David has worked with the New York State Theatre Institute, Theatre Voices, the Asolo Theatre Festival, New York Stage Originals and Actors Theatre of Louisville. David has an M.F.A. in Acting from Florida State University and a B.A. in Theatre from Washington University in St. Louis.


Sara Senecal, M.F.A.

Professor of Dance

Sara Senecal is an Artist in Residence at Russell Sage College. She is a professional dancer, teacher, and choreographer from Troy, New York with an MFA in Choreography from Jacksonville University and a B.A in Dance and Minor in Education from the University at Buffalo (SUNY). Along with teaching at Russell Sage College, Sara has taught master classes at Siena College, University at Buffalo, and Albany Academy for Girls as well as many Capital Region dance studios.Sara has been dancing professionally with the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, resident company of The Egg Center for the Performing Arts in Albany, New York, since 2010, and serves as an Arts in Education Coordinator for the company. A rich part of her work involves developing movement workshops for adults and students with developmental disabilities through ESDC’s partnership with The Center for Disability Services and developing Creative Movement workshops for students in K-12 public and private schools. Sara has collaborated on projects with Claire Jacob-Zysman and Dancers, Tina Baird, and visual artist Saya Woolfalk, along with commissions to set works in conjunction with Nacre Dance Company and Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company.Her choreographic work has been showcased at various venues across New York State, including The Egg Center for the Performing Arts in Albany, The Poet’s Den Theater in Harlem, Byrdcliffe Theater in Woodstock, Carrier Theater in Syracuse, and Spa Little Theater in Saratoga Springs. Sara’s work emphasizes unique spatial opportunities while questioning the relationships between space, time, and individual perception. Her teaching background and choreographic style overlap in a mission to bring a more equitable dance environment to all participants and engage spectators in performance through fun and unusual means.


Jennifer Raineri, M.F.A.

Costume Designer & TIS Costume Shop Manager, Professor of Costume Technology in Stagecraft

Jennifer Raineri is the Costume Designer and Shop Manager for the Theatre Institute at Sage. She has grown her career working professionally at regional theatres across the east coast, and at academic institutions where she expands the minds of students delving into the field of technical theatre. Past courses she has taught include: Costume Construction, Principles of Design, Stage Makeup, Drawing 101, and Collaboration In Theatre. She holds a B.A. in Costume Design from Albright College, and continued her studies to receive an M.F.A. in Costume Design and Production from The University of Alabama. In September of 2022, she had the fortunate opportunity to present her own fashion collection at New York Fashion Week at an emerging designers exhibition through Albright College.


Paul Sweet

Technical Director & TIS Scene Shop Manager, Professor of Stagecraft

Paul Sweet is relatively new to Russell Sage as a technical director, shop manager, and occasional designer. His previous work has included overhire for The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Drew University. Paul spent summers at the Virginia Theatre Festival and the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts. He attended an automation intensive at The Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas through a scholarship awarded for his scenic design for Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls, presented at a region two gathering of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Some other of Paul’s favorite shows from his undergraduate experience at Lycoming College include The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged, Revised), Arsenic and Old Lace, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Threepenny Opera.


Eleah Jayne Peal, M.S.

TIS Administrative Assistant, Professor of Stage Combat & Stage Makeup

Eleah Jayne Peal is a consent-forward fight & movement choreographer, performer, director and theatre education artist working with stage companies and education programs in the capital region of NY.  Eleah holds a B.F.A. in Acting from SUNY Fredonia, has trained with the Moscow Art Theatre, Shakespeare & Co., and is a member and certfied advanced level combatant with Society of American Fight Directors, maintaining certifications in 8 weapons disciplines and Theatrical Firearm Safety. Additionally, Eleah holds a Masters of Science in Organization Management from Russell Sage, and works as both administrative support and as an adjunct professor of Stage Combat and Makeup for the Stage for the RSC Performing Arts Department/Theatre Institute.  Beyond her involvement at the college, Eleah works with local high schools and theatre youth programs, and is also a proud member of the Creative Action Playback Theatre Company and multiple CAU stage & multimedia productions surrounding social justice issues.  eleahjaynepeal.net


Eddie Knight

Education Program & Internship Coordinator

Eddie Knight serves as the Education Program and Internship Coordinator for the Theatre Institute at Sage, and is a proud graduate of Russell Sage College (Blue Angel Class of 2017). A native of Chatham, N.Y., Eddie has worked with the Columbia County Youth Theatre as a director and teaching artist for over a decade, serves on the board of The Ghent Playhouse, and is the director of the Chatham High School Drama Club. Favorite TIS stage roles include the titular role in Benjamin Franklinstein The Musical, The Cowardly Lion (The Wizard of Oz), Sweaty McGhee & Tailor (Backbeard The Musical), and Ugly (Honk!).

Lisa Franklin

Instructor of Voice

Lisa HeadshotBroadway Concerts: Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Secret Garden – Lincoln Center. NYC Credits: The Real Desperate Housewives of Columbia County – Beechman Theatre, The Franklin Family in Concert – 54 Below, Manuel Versus the Statue of Liberty – NYMF. Regional: Arizona Broadway Theatre, CapRep, Dells Palace Theatre, Broward Stage, Mac-Haydn Theatre, Park Playhouse, The Theater Barn and The Sharon Playhouse. Lisa has musical directed at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts and is voice teacher of many of today’s young Broadway Stars, having had her students perform in 40+ Broadway and Tour roles. Her proudest accomplishment is her 4 children, Julia, Charlie, Emily & George – all who have appeared in Broadway or Off-Broadway shows & National Tours