Theatre / Musical Theatre Faculty
David Baecker, M.F.A.: Chair and Associate Professor of Theatre
David Baecker is an Associate Professor of Theatre and Chair of the Department of Arts and Letters. He is also a communications coach with the New York State Defenders Association.
As an actor, Professor Baecker has performed with the Asolo Festival Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the New York State Theatre Institute, Saratoga Shakespeare Festival, Theater Voices, New York Stage Originals and the Sarasota Ballet. Directing credits include Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Santa Fe Theatre Festival), A Christmas Carol and Silence in a Circular Rainbow (New York State Theatre Institute), Mr. Sensitivity (New York Fringe Festival), The Trial of Bat Shea (Rensselaer County Historical Society) The Laramie Project and Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School) and Full Gallop, Humble Boy, and The Little Foxes (Theater Voices)
Professor Baecker has directed over twenty productions at Sage. Favorites include Nickel and Dimed, Stop Kiss, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Boston Marriage, Proof, The Turn of the Screw, The Visit, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, The War of the Worlds and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which received three “Best of Local Theatre” awards in 2012 and 2013.
Professor Baecker’s other interests include work on the Russell Sage College Curriculum Committee and with the Troy Faculty Council. He is the father of Eleanor and Charlotte; they are the lights of his life.
David Bunce, B.F.A., AEA, SAG/AFTRA, S.A.F.D.: Artist-in-Residence, Theatre
David Bunce is a Teacher/Artist-in-Residence with the Theatre Institute at Sage. David was a Teacher/Actor with the New York State Theatre Institute (NYSTI) for 27 years and an adjunct Professor at Russell Sage College for 19 years before joining the faculty full time in 2011. As an actor, he has performed in London’s West End, Off Broadway, Moscow, Sweden, Italy, the Middle East and in film, television and on radio. Writing credits include the screenplays Incisions, Learning to Fly and Gasoline and Lightning, and a stage adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. Directing credits include And Then There Were None for NYSTI and The Last of the Mohicans Outdoor Drama in Lake George, NY. David holds a BFA in Acting from Central Connecticut State University and has taught and/or choreographed stage combat at SUNY Albany, Siena College, Capital Repertory Theatre, Schenectady County Community College and Upstate Independents. He is a proud member of Actors Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild/ American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Society of American Fight Directors.
Heather Hamelin: Education and Intern Program Coordinator
Heather is the coordinator for both the internship program and Theatre Institute at Sage Education programs. A professional stage manager with The New York State Theatre Institute for 17 years she stage managed more than 60 productions and toured productions to London, Sweden, Italy and NYC. Some of Heather’s favorite productions include: 1776, Magna Carta, A Wonderful Life, American Enterprise, Orphan Train and Alice in Wonderland. Prior to stage management, Heather worked production regionally with companies including Capital Repertory Theatre, The College of St. Rose, Park Playhouse and the University at Albany.
Duncan Morrison: Scenic Designer-in-Residence
Duncan is the resident scenic designer for Russell Sage College. Currently in his sixth season at Sage, he has designed over ninety productions throughout the Capital District. As a manager for Adirondack Studios Inc. for thirteen years, he was responsible for the development and production of scenic elements for clients as diverse as the Disney Theme Parks, Chicago Lyric Opera, and Wegman’s grocery stores. In addition to scenery, his specialty property/costume designs have been seen on the stages of Union College, NYS Theater Institute, Capital Repertory Theatre and Proctors.
His parade work includes a Trojan horse and an inflatable giant squid.
Michael A. Musial, M.M., M.A.: Edith McCrae Professor of Fine Arts, Associate Professor of Music
Michael Musial is an Associate Professor of Music, Edith McCrae Distinguished Chair in Music and serves as the Director of the Theater Institute at Sage. As a pianist he has performed at Steinway Hall, Lincoln Center, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Marist College, Converse College, Villa Maria College, and the Troy Music Hall among others.
Music Directing credits include numerous New York State Theatre Institute (NYSTI) productions including Wizard of Oz, Fiorello, Yours, Anne, Man of LaMancha, A Wonderful Life, King Island Christmas, 1776 and Orphan Train. For NYSTI he also music directed A Tale of Cinderella for their 2001 New York State tour and was musical director for their 2002 world premiere production of Magna Carta.
At Sage he has directed and music directed over 40 productions. Favorites include Candide, Urinetown, Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, The Medium, Quilters, Lady in the Dark, Into the Woods, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Sweeney Todd.
As the Director of the Sage Singers, Professor Musial has directed over 50 choral concerts at Sage. Personal favorites among them are Mozart’s Requiem, Faure’s Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Haydn’s The Creation, Handel’s Messiah, Thompson’s Frostiana and numerous works by John Rutter.
Professor Musial is a member of the duo-piano team Musial and Musial with his wife, Barbara. They have performed extensively locally and regionally – including being prize winners in the Ellis Duo-Piano Competition.
Professor Musial is also a faculty member of the Discovery Degree Sage Summer on the Hudson course traveling throughout the Capital District, the Mid-Hudson region and New York City with students from mid-May through June. Discovery Degree Students spend the summer after their first year on campus for a 15-credit integrated, team-taught liberal arts and sciences course that fulfills 15 general education credits.
Lynne Roblin is the Costume Designer at Russell Sage College. A graduate of Kenyon College with a BA in theatre, Lynne worked in various technical theatre positions in Dallas, Texas for 2 years after graduation before moving back to New York State. She was a member of the New York State Theatre Institute company for 26 years as a costume technician, wardrobe supervisor, and teacher. While with the company, Lynne toured with productions throughout New York, and to Russia, Jordan, England, Sweden, and Italy. Some favorite NYSTI productions include: A Tale Of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, A Wonderful Life, Sherlock’s Secret Life, Alice In Wonderland, Ladies Of Song, Arsenic and Old Lace, and A Christmas Carol. Lynne was an adjunct professor of costume technology and assistant to the costume designer at SUNY Albany in 2011-12, and spends summers as a costume technician at Hope Summer Repertory Theatre in Holland, Michigan.
Margaret Ryan: Administrative Assistant
Peggy is the Administrative Assistant for the Department of Arts and Letters where she assists and supports the needs of the Department and the Theatre Institute at Sage. She joined Sage in March of 2008. Prior to her employment at Russell Sage College, Peggy worked for several years at St. Augustine School & Church and the CSEA Employee Benefit Fund. She earned a degree in Office Administration from Spencer Business. Outside of Sage, Peggy enjoys spending time with her husband and family. Her hobbies include teaching middle and high school youth from the Shenendehowa High School Competitive Color Guards.
Leigh Strimbeck, B.F.A.: Artist-in-Residence, Theatre
Leigh Strimbeck is an actor, director, writer and acting teacher. Her college education included two years at Bennington College and two years at New York University, where she graduated with a BFA in Dance/Drama. Leigh began teaching in New York City over 30 years ago at the Actors and Directors Lab, and has taught almost continuously since then. Later, she moved to Sweden, taught theater, and toured with a children’s theater company for a year. Upon her return to the U.S., she joined the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE) in Bloomsburg, PA and continued to teach, perform and direct.
During the twelve years with BTE Leigh acted in dozens of plays and served as Ensemble Director for three years. She was a site reporter for the National Endowment for the Arts. Leigh traveled with BTE during a USIA tour of Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia. The following year she returned to Zimbabwe for five weeks to adjudicate the National Theater Organization of Zimbabwe’s Theatre festival and to teach workshops.
Since moving to the Albany area Leigh has directed at Actors Collaborative and Stageworks, and appeared onstage at WAM Theatre, Capital Repertory Theatre, Theater Voices and Theatre Institute at Sage.
Leigh can be seen in the films UnCivil Liberties, Fighting for Freedom, and Little Bi Peep (best supporting actress in a comedy award, Atlantic City Cinefest, 2013) Leigh co-founded WAM Theatre (Women’s Action Movement Theatre - (wamtheatre.com); is an associate member of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble and head communications coach for the New York State Defender's Institute Basic Trial Skills Program.
Currently Leigh is artist-in-residence at Russell Sage College in Troy, New York where she has created and directed the devised pieces Mirror, Mirror, about young women, body image, and the pressure to be perfect; I'm Not a Feminist, But… about this generation's relationship to the feminist movement; and adapted and directed The Trojan Women, which toured to New York City and the Berkshires.