Michael A. Musial, M.M.

Edith McCrae Professor of Fine Arts; Professor of Music
Managing Director, 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

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.


Jennifer Raineri

Costume Designer & Shop Manager

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.



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!).


Eleah Jayne Peal

Adjunct Professor of Stage Combat & Stage Makeup
Performing Arts/TIS Administrative Assistant 

Eleah Jayne Peal is a consent-forward fight & movement choreographer, performer, director and education artist working with stage companies and performing arts education programs in the capital region of NY.  Eleah holds a B.F.A. in Acting from SUNY Fredonia and has extensive performance method, movement and classical text training.  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 as well as the touring company Creative Action Unlimited, aimed to raise awareness of social issues through performing arts.  eleahjaynepeal.net


Lisa Franklin

Teacher of Voice

Lisa Headshot