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Production at Manatee Village

The Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. and The Hat Theater Collective are proud to announce The Ballad of Old Manatee, a new immersive historical drama with original folk music inspired by true events from the Village of Manatee’s origins.

The Ballad of Old Manatee tells the dynamic love story of James C. Vanderipe and Sarah Lee—and an intense conflict between James and Sarah's father, the Reverend Edmund Lee. This conflict, shrouded in mystery and intrigue, leads to James' death and burial in what is called

"The Lonesome Grave." History meets mystery in this unique theatrical experience!

Inspired by true events and the early settlers of Manatee County, audiences will experience this World Premiere Musical among the historic buildings and grounds at Manatee Village Historical Park, including a Florida pioneer farmhouse built in a "Cracker Gothic-style," Manatee County's first courthouse (1860), a one-room schoolhouse (1905), and the Church (1887).

Produced and created by Danae DeShazer and Derek Brookens, under their new company The Hat Theater Collective, this interactive and unique theatrical experience will also serve as a fundraiser for the Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. maintains the historically significant buildings within the Manatee Village Historical Park in order to preserve and share the heritage of Manatee County’s founding period (1840-1918). 

Tickets will be released soon and can be purchased by visiting

The production is approximately 75 minutes with no intermission and will have a limited run on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, April 4 - April 20, 2024 Several scenes will take place outdoors and the audience will move locations throughout the performance. 

Performance Calendar:

Thursday, April 4 - Saturday, April 6

Thursday, April 11 - Saturday, April 13

Thursday, April 18 - Saturday, April 20

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