Bits 'n' Pieces: Prairie High graduate multitasks in Hollywood

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photoMelanie Keller, aka Reese

Folks in Hockinson remember her as Melanie Keller. But when she hit L.A., she adopted the stage name Melanie Reese.

The 2003 Prairie High School graduate has wanted to be an actress since she was two. After graduating from the University of Washington, she knew it was time to go where the action is. Now Melanie, 26, is living the showbiz dream: "crazy busy" working in a rock band, a theater troupe and a Web-based series, she said. (Plus, to make an actual living, she waits tables and manages the box office at a restaurant and theater called Rockwell Table and Stage, where Hollywood's famous faces tend to turn up).

The band is PLaNETS, and it's really much more than a band, according to Melanie. Its shows are full-fledged dramatic performances featuring dancers, shadow puppets and more theatrics that illustrate a story. Melanie is one of the dancer/puppeteers. PLaNETS has released a CD called "The Dark Woods." By October, Melanie said, an accompanying video should be up on the Internet. Meanwhile, listen in at PLaNETS.

The theater troupe is Opera del Espacio and it does edgy stuff in architectural spaces and on subway platforms.

And the Web series, "Flat," features 24 short episodes about twentysomethings sharing an apartment. Melanie played Abigail, "the suicidal girl" who finds love and community and a happy ending, she said. Find "Flat" on Facebook.

"It was really fun and very D-I-Y," she said. "And now that it's done, I'm trying to audition for the next thing."

— Scott Hewitt

Local artist provides the mural to the story

Guy Drennan has been painting the town since 1996. With colorful murals, that is.

Earlier this month, the Vancouver artist's new mural, "Old Apple Tree," received the People's Choice Award in the Clark County Mural Society's Summer of Murals competition.

He referenced historical photos and ink drawings showing the layout of Fort Vancouver's orchard in proximity to the fort. View the mural at Torque Coffee Roasters, 501 Columbia St.

Drennan, 56, has completed about two dozen murals, mostly around Vancouver. They include the Chkalov mural downtown on the corner of Evergreen and Broadway, the Orchards Feed Mill mural and a mid-century shopping scene at Scofield Corner at Main and McLoughlin in Uptown Village.

His ballerinas mural on the corner of 1700 Broadway, home of Columbia Dance, is his favorite.

"I like the way the mural is tied to the building," Drennan said.

He earned his bachelors degree in fine art at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland. He also works as a waiter at Tommy O's Eastside. It provides flexibility to do his artwork.

Before the paint dries on a mural, he has lined up new projects. Next, he'll paint a mural of a railroad engine at Whistle Stop Espresso near the railroad tracks east of Stevenson.

Visit "Guy D. Drennan, mural artist" on Facebook.

— Susan Parrish

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.