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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Darel Jevens

Fear not, Cecily Strong fans: She hasn’t left ‘SNL’

Cecily Strong (pictured in 2016). (Mike Windle/Getty Images)

Fans of Cecily Strong got a scare over the weekend as the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” opened with its usual gallery of cast members — and she wasn’t in it.

Had the former Chicagoan joined the summer exodus from the long-running NBC series and left after a decade of late-night service?

She had not. A source close to the show tells the Sun-Times that Strong is absent while doing a play in Los Angeles and intends to return.

At the Mark Taper Forum, Strong is starring in a revival of the one-woman show “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe,” assuming the roles originated by Lily Tomlin when the show, by Tomlin’s partner Jane Wagner, debuted in 1985.

“SNL” is contending with its most dramatic cast overhaul in years. Eight cast members — Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Kyle Mooney, Alex Moffat, Chris Redd, Melissa Villaseñor and Aristotle Athari — are gone as the show begins its 48th season.

Like many “SNL” veterans, Strong has been diversifying her resume with work outside of 30 Rock. In addition to the Tomlin play, which she also did in New York last winter, she stars with Keegan-Michael Key in the Apple TV+ series “Schmigadoon,” which aired its first season in 2021 and recently completed shooting Season 2.

Strong grew up in Oak Park and spent several years in Chicago performing in plays as well as sketch and improv shows at Second City and iO.

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