Allan Rieser, a playwright and lyricist whose work was seen Off Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway, died Nov. 26 due to congenital heart disease, according to friends.
Mr. Rieser was 86 and had seen a number of his works staged in New York City and regionally since the 1960s. His longtime director and collaborator, Don Price, told Playbill that Mr. Rieser was rewriting a final play, A Chain of Summer Voices, as late as a week before his death.The play will be produced at Off-Off-Broadway's Pantheon Theatre in March 2001, under Price's direction. A previous reading was done in March 2000.
The play is drawn from Mr. Rieser's youth. "Every summer his aunt would take the whole family to the farm in New Jersey and give them this summer vacation," said producer-director Price. "The play is about one summer there. It's set during the Depression."
Mr. Rieser (pronounced "reezer") was born in the Inwood section of Manhattan and raised in New Jersey and New York City.
He studied acting and playwriting at Columbia University, but did not graduate. While working in summer stock as an actor, he met his future wife, actress Deborah Wood Rieser. She predeceased him. Among Mr. Rieser's credits are The Brownstone Urge, produced Off-Broadway in the 1960s; co-librettist (with Don Price) and lyricist for the musical, Time Again (about reincarnation, with composer James Campodonico); co-librettist and lyricist for the gay-themed musical, The Cherry Pit, with co-librettist director Price and composer Richard Demone; and the plays The Glass Coffin, The Merry Wives of Scarsdale, Elysian Fields, Lady on a Leash, Celebrity Suite and He or She as the Case May Be.
In 1990, Dorian Gray, a musical version of the Oscar Wilde novella, was staged in Harrisburg, PA. It was later produced at the Judith Anderson Theatre in Manhattan. He also wrote book and lyrics for Mamushka, with composer Amy Engelstein, which was seen at the Waverly Place Theatre (its new title is The Embracers). Recently, his plays Angels of the Apocalypse and Mrs. Bromley (with Merle Louise) were produced in New York.
His published work includes a play, Boys Meets Girl, and a piece in the anthology "100 Monologues."
He is survived by brother Charles Rieser and stepsister Patra Cogan.
— By Kenneth Jones