Ninja Theater


By Cali Bagby, Islands’ Sounder reporter

There are certain key elements that keep audiences on the edge of their seats during action flicks – driving music, tight sound effects, dramatic slow motion and killer moves.

Somehow a group of performers have brought the elements of the big screen to the stage. While most theatre productions try to avoid replicating the cinema, Nanda has embraced special effects to enhance their performances.

“We thought how can we make the show more like a movie experience without making a movie, so we incorporated sound effects,” said Nanda performer Misha Fradin. “In any music score, you notice tight tracks that go with the visuals you are seeing. Sounds make the show more captivating because you are hitting different senses.”

The four performers of Nanda from Port Townsend, Wash., are bringing the high-energy show “The Jacket” to San Juan Community Theatre, Sunday, Oct. 28, 5 p.m. It is a live action show that combines comedy, juggling, acrobatics, martial arts, video, music, dance and pop-culture references.

It takes a special kind of talent to blend juggling, Charlie Chaplin-esque comedy and ninja fight sequences. It takes an even higher level of skill to do it well.

“‘The Jacket’ is so completely entertaining it was one of the most enjoyable theater experiences I have had in a long time,” said Orcas Center Director Kara O’Toole, who saw the show in Seattle last year with her 11-year-old son. “We loved the athleticism, the humor (lots of humor), the surprises, the energy, and the extreme creativity.”

The Jacket contains humor for adults and slapstick action for  kids.

Fradin said that the inspiration for the “Jacket” came from the group’s love of the larger than life fantasy genre of “Lord of the Rings,” and the skill and comedy of Jackie Chan movies.

“We can be total dorks and then be super bad-ass all in one show,” Fradin said.

How it all started

Fradin started juggling at age five after spending countless days at various festivals he attended with his mother, who was an herbalist. It was on these trips that Fradin was left with plenty of time to kill and a look at a world where people lived outside of the “box.”

As he began to master juggling, his best friend Tomoki Sage wanted to learn the talent as well.

“And when he learned to backflip, I had to do that … so that’s how it started,” said Fradin about how he and Sage began a long and exciting journey of learning new talents. They pushed each other in break dancing and acrobatics. They both received scholarships to dance at a local studio and were joined by the other Nanda members, Tomoki’s brother Kiyota Sage and Chen Pollina. Soon after that the creation of the show, now known as “The Jacket,” was born.

And people seem to like their creation. A Youtube video featuring several minutes of the show has reached more than 800,000 views online.

“All of us collaborated. We all create together to help each other move forward and create higher art,” Fradin said.

While on Orcas, Nanda will also present a 45-minute presentation at the high school on Friday as part of their educational outreach program. It includes a 20-minute show and a lecture that breaks down how they create fight scenes and other action on the stage.

“I grew up learning from other jugglers. I wanted to pass on that knowledge and skills,” said Fradin. “And what we are doing is new and we want to teach kids safe ways to do what we are doing to let kids push their limits in positive ways.”

For more info, visit

Tickets are $25, adults, $11 for student reserved, and $5RUSH at the door.

— Contact Islands Sounder Reporter Cali Bagby at or 360-376-4500.