Musical theatre lyricist Annette Leisten, who penned children's musicals for Barry and Fran Weissler before the Weisslers became major Broadway producers, died of leukemia May 3 in Boca Raton, FL, according to friends.
Ms. Leisten, who was 75, spent her formative years at Tamiment, the famous New York mountain resort where writers such as Neil and Danny Simon and lyricist Marshall Barer honed their writing craft creating weekly entertainments.
Shortly after meeting composer Shelly Markham at the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, under the direction of Lehman Engel, the composer-lyricist team started writing for the Weissler. Their first work, Ichabod, was a retelling of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The team continued to write for the Weisslers for eight years.
The Babes in Toyland, for which they both created new songs as well as adapting and updating the Victor Herbert classic, opened at Madison Square Garden and then toured nationally for three years.
In 1976, the team was commissioned by Music Fair producers Lee Guber and Shelly Gross to write a bicentennial musical about the siege of Philadelphia in 1778. Their musical Forge Of Freedom, played the historical Valley Forge site as well as Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. Leisten and Markham also wrote for CBS-TV's "Captain Kangaroo" for four years. Leisten served on the steering committee of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Workshop. She joined the songwriting workshop in the late 1960s and served as an advisor to group until the time of her death.
She was predeceased by her husband, Dr. David Leisten and is survived by children Garris, Gregory, Allison, Mitchell and two grandchildren.
A memorial was held May 7 in Forest Hills, Queens.