Saturday Night Live cast member Cecily Strong is not leaving the sketch show, despite failing to appear in the season 48 premiere.
The actor is currently appearing on stage in a production of The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.
As such, her absence from the show is expected to be a temporary one. In total, eight of her fellow cast members from last year permanently left over the summer: Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson. Alex Moffat, Kyle Mooney, Chris Redd, Melissa Villaseñor and Aristotle Athari.
New additions include Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker.
The major cast shake-up was addressed during the episode’s cold open. When first-time host Miles Teller lamented that there were no impressions of Anthony Fauci, Lindsey Graham or Rudy Giuliano, co-star Andrew Dismukes pointed out that: “Those were all Kate McKinnon.”
Mad Men and Confess Fletch star Jon Hamm also appeared in the sketch as a surprise guest.
After a one-line cameo from snowboarder Shawn White, Hamm poked fun at Teller by claiming the show sometimes resorted to stunt casting. “Sometimes they need to bring in a real celebrity when the host isn’t that famous,” he commented. “I mean, when they couldn’t get the star of the big summer movie, your Tom Cruise or your Jon Hamm, they had to get the co-star.”