Minor Player / Variety Act for the week ending
Saturday, 4 April 2009

Janette Steer (fl. 1886-1817),
American actress and dramatist,
in The Fool's Revenge,
Opera Comique, London, July 1886

Janette Steer

a Woodburytype carte de visite of Janette Steer

(photo: W. & D. Downey, London, late 1880s)

'As Mrs. Mackintosh and her sister, Miss Janette Steer, two '' professional beauties,'' were anxious to emulate the success of Mrs. Langtry, they have, with the assistance of Mr. E.W. Godwin, opened the Opéra Comique for a short season, and while ''society'' is still in London their drawing-room fame may attract some visitors. They would have done better, however, had they chosen a more suitable play that The Fool's Revenge for their experiment, as much besides ''looking well'' is required to make interesting either the Countess or the hardly-used Fiordelisa in Tom Taylor's gloomy adaptation. Mr. Hermann Vezin, who has been persuaded to help in the experiment, of course plays well.'
(The Illustrated Police News, London, Saturday, 17 July 1886, p. 4a)

'Even before the curtain rose on The Fool's Revenge at the Opera Comique on Saturday evening, the appearance of a small Covent-garden of bouquets and flower-baskets in the front of the stalls had called forth murmurs from the upper regions of the theatre; and these murmurs were repeated at intervals when the friends of the two ladies who made their first professional appearance under Mr. Godwin's management were too unreasonably generous in their applause. On the whole, however, the play went as well as a blank verse drama acted in the dog days by an inexperienced company could be expected to go. Mr. Hermann Vezin's Bertuccio was of course a thoroughly competent, and in some scenes an impressive, performance. Mrs. Mackintosh, who played Francesca Bentivoglio, is a lady of handsome presence and considerable self-possession, who betrays little of the amateur, except in the monotony of her style. Her performance was in no way remarkable. Her sister, Miss Janette Steer, who played Fiordelisa, seems less at her ease on the stage, perhaps because she is taller and less compact in figure. Her utterance is defective, and her bearing not very graceful, but she shows some intelligence. The scenery and appointments are distinguished by Mr. Godwin's usual care and taste. The names of the actors on the playbill are given in the shape of facsimile signatures - a meaningless innovation for innovation's sake.'
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Monday, 5 July 1886, p. 2)

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© John Culme, 2009