Driving tests? Fashion nightmares? High school angst? Leave these worries for mere mortal tenth graders; Charleston’s Johanna Schlitt has little time for such trivial concerns. At an age when most young women are worried more about their looks, Johanna Schlitt’s involved in some real drama, like melding a gaggle of dancers and music into a seamlessly choreographed number and worrying how a paying audience will respond. The start of the 2007-2008 season finds Johanna, daughter of the Company Company’s founders Bill Schlitt and Maida Libkin, hard at work trying to top her success with last year’s popular production of Urinetown. Her latest undertaking is the Company Company and Village Playhouse’s co-production of Gypsy, one of this season’s Critic’s Picks, and a daunting production considering that shortly after the local show bows, the Broadway touring company of Gypsy arrives in town.
A Charleston native, Johanna has paid her early dues. She started dancing tap and ballet at three years old, adding in jazz at five, and has recently taken up ballroom. Each summer for the past six years finds her in New York City honing her craft at the Broadway Dance Center and with the New Dance group. Here at home her professional musical theatre education continues at the Charleston County School of the Arts where she intends to learn everything she can before taking her chance on the Great White Way after school and college.
Recently she has begun to give back some of what she has learned, whether teaching tap and ballet privately to adults or through her debut as a professional choreographer with such musicals as She Loves Me, Cinderella, and Urinetown. Urinetown was a big hit last season — She not only choreographed but also was an excellent performer in the role of Little Sally.
Others are beginning to take note of her talent as well. Emily Wilhoit, executive director of the League of Charleston Theatres, says of Johanna, “I’ve met a lot of talented kids in Charleston, and Johanna is definitely at the top of the list. I am consistently impressed with her creativity and professionalism. I can’t wait to see how far they will take her.” —William Bryan