Actors Jennifer Dymit and Garrett Lutz have no lines in Steppenwolf Theatre's production of "Three Sisters." But they don't mind. Because working with director Anna D. Shapiro in an Anton Chekhov play adapted by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts makes up for it.
Besides, it's a foot in the door, said casting director Erica Daniels, a Steppenwolf associate artistic director. The chance puts them on the radar for Steppenwolf and other companies.
In addition, they get to work with Shapiro, whom Daniels describes as "a genius when it comes to directing."
"For these young or new actors, it's like a four-week, graduate school class in Chekhov," she added.
For Wheaton native Dymit, stepping on the Steppenwolf stage for the first time was like a dream -- a surreal dream.
She remembers thinking "one of these things doesn't belong with the others, and I think that might be me."
It was daunting initially, said Dymit, who plays violin in several scenes and sings. "But at the end of the day," she said, "we're all people getting together to put up a story and tell it as honestly as we can."
Dymit did community theater and performed in plays at Wheaton Warrenville South High School. During college, she performed at Urbana's Station Theatre while earning undergraduate degrees in English and French at the University of Illinois in Champaign.
Professionally, she played Sybil in Buffalo Theatre Ensemble's 2011 production of "Private Lives." A voice-over actress, Dymit has also performed with City Lit and Moving Stories theater companies and appeared in First Folio Theatre's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court."
As far as she's concerned, the only difference between suburban and Chicago theater is geography.
"Any show, in any company, is what you make it," she said.
But being a professional actress hasn't been easy.
"There have been moments where I thought 'maybe law school wasn't such a bad idea after all.' Those moments are when I'd get something great that would push me through," Dymit said.
Unlike Dymit, Garrett Lutz is looking at his first professional acting job with "Three Sisters."
"You'll see me if you don't blink," said Lutz, a 2012 graduate of Naperville's North Central College.
He auditioned unsuccessfully for Steppenwolf's world premiere of "The March." Carin Silkaitis, department chair of art and theater at North Central, encouraged him to try again. Two weeks before graduation, in the middle of final exams, he learned Daniels wanted him for the ensemble.
"It did not help my three-year senioritis," joked Lutz, who plays a soldier and other nonspeaking roles.
Lutz knew he wanted to make theater his career practically from the time he sang "It's a Small World After All" in the kiddie pool at Disneyland while on vacation with his family. He studied acting, singing and improvisation and performed at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, where he took an accounting class just to get some real-world career perspective.
Not only did he determine accounting was not for him, he realized he wouldn't be happy doing anything but theater.
For Lutz, being in "Three Sisters" has been the crash course Daniels described.
"I could not ask for a better summer," Lutz said.