* Hilarity (h-i-l-a-r-i-t-y, hilarity) awaits when we get to see some of our favorite local talents playing the comic characters in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, opening Friday at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Dan Chevalier brings his wide-eyed innocence to Leaf Coneybear, the child of hippies who makes his own clothes and sings, “I’m not that smart.” Tim Abou-Nasr plays Chip Tolentino, a Boy Scout facing the embarrassment of puberty, while Bailey Carlson is the girl whose name requires a spelling expert: Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere, daughter of two homosexual dads who can be a bit overbearing. Analisa Swerczek plays the over-achieving Marcy Park, who becomes a bit bored with her success; Eric Micks does William Barfee (pronounce it Bar-fay, please), the boy who spells with his magic foot, and Jennifer Tritz is Olive Ostrovsky, who can only dream about parental support since her mother is off in an Indian Ashram and her father works late. Theresa Sindelar plays the ex-champ who moderates the spelling bee and fends off the smitten judge, a vice principal played by Gordon Krentz. Roderick Cotton supplies grief counseling for the losers. Director Carl Beck will continue the show’s tradition of allowing a few audience members on stage to compete with the kids. The Putnam County competition will run through March 27 in the Howard Drew Theatre. * Great news to hear while walking my dog Max on a Sunday morning: A neighbor walking her dog Nickel reported her delight at being part of an overflow crowd at Saturday night’s performance of Distant Music, the Irish pub hit at the Brigit Saint Brigit. It helped that playwright James McLindon was on hand for a talkback, but rave reviews and word-of-mouth make this a tough ticket for the upcoming final weekend. * Nobody generates more progress reports than Andrew McGreevy, whose SkullDuggery Theatre enjoyed/suffered such a roller-coaster season. The latest: He’s now overseeing the arts offerings at P.S. Collective, the Benson Pizza Shoppe he again calls home. And it was great to hear about the good Minnesota fortunes of two University of Nebraska at Omaha theater grads, Paul R. Coate and Kathleen Bagby Coate. Paul recently performed in Evita in St. Paul and made his Minnesota Orchestra debut in Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute. Kathy, formerly with Iowa Western’s theater department, teaches the same in Normandale. Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.