Fresh off season 46 of Saturday Night Live, Cecily Strong is starring in her first original series, a musical comedy titled Schmigadoon! While the actor has made a number of appearances on everything from Great News to Superstore, the Apple TV+ project marks the first time the longtime and Emmy-nominated SNL performer is stepping out on her own as the lead, playing one-half of a couple who gets stuck in a 1940s musical town during a backpacking trip to save their relationship.
But any time a cast member embarks on solo projects, that typically marks the end of their tenure on the long-running sketch comedy series. And given Strong’s show-stopping performance of “My Way” as Judge Jeanine Pirro and the emotional cold open she delivered with several of her longtime co-stars in the season finale, it has left many fans wondering if she’ll return for a 10th go-around or if this was the end.
“I’ll be thrilled if I go back, I’ll be thrilled if that was my last show,” Strong tells ET’s Matt Cohen while promoting Schmigadoon!, which is executive produced by Lorne Michaels. “I feel good either way.”
But one thing Strong makes clear is that “things are a bit more up in the air and I’m OK with that,” she says, adding, “My lesson from last year is sort of see what happens.”
While her future on SNL may be ambiguous, she has started thinking about what her post-SNL career would look like, which could include more Schmigadoon! (“Any time ever!”), venturing onto the Broadway stage or doing more movies. “I’m excited to try different things,” she says.
In the meantime, the first season of the musical comedy premieres July 16 on Apple TV+. In addition to Michaels’ participation, the series also reunites with her former SNL star Fred Armisen as well as current breakout Bowen Yang, who serves as one of the series’ writers.
“We all stay connected throughout the year and Bowen’s such a good friend,” Strong says of getting her co-star to join the project. “I was so happy he wrote on this. Bowen is such a star. Anything he even stands next to gets a little of his shine.”
Because she’s been working on this since 2018, Yang is one of the few people she’s been able to share this experience with. “I haven’t been able to even tell anybody what I got to do in the fall, and so I’m bursting at the seams for the people to see this show,” she gushes, adding, “People get to know why I had this dreamy look on my face the whole time. I’m like, ‘You guys have no idea what happened in Vancouver!’ Now they’ll get to know.”
Over the course of six episodes, Strong plays Melissa opposite Keegan Michael-Key as her partner, Josh. After the couple find themselves in the titular town populated by eccentric characters, they soon learn that the only way to leave is to find their one true love, which may not be with each other.
Created by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, the series features an all-star cast, including Alan Cumming (Mayor Menlove), Kristin Chenoweth (Mildred Layton), Aaron Tveit (Danny Bailey), Dove Cameron (Betsy), Ariana DeBose (Emma Tate), Jaime Camil (Doc Lopez), Jane Krakowski (The Countess), Ann Harada (Florence Menlove) as well as Armisen as Reverend Layton.
When asked about her “amazing” co-stars, Strong says it was “so funny watching Kristin play this type of character -- [a villainous, conservative townsperson] -- because it's very not Kristin. So it was just a Masterclass.”
And as Broadway prepares to reopen in the fall, Schmigadoon! comes at a time when musical theater fans need it the most, after having been starved of live performances for over a year. “I got a show when Broadway was closed, and hopefully now everybody gets the show,” Strong says.
She adds that “it feels like the perfect thing to share because it’s just joyful, it’s funny, and it also has a lot of heart. And I think just sharing that with the world -- I feel very lucky that’s what I get to share.”