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The longtime comedian wasn't featured in the opening credits of season 48 — but it has nothing to do with her employment status on the series.
At the top of this weekend's episode hosted by Miles Teller and featuring musical guest Kendrick Lamar, viewers were quick to point out Strong's absence from the show. Many wondered if she quietly left the series ahead of season 48, alongside eight other cast members who stepped away from the sketch series.
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PEOPLE has learned Strong, 38, will return at the conclusion of the one-woman play, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, which wraps on Oct. 23. Right now, Strong is performing the show in Los Angeles. SNL creator Lorne Michaels is one of the play's producers.
Strong opened the show on Friday. "WHOAH HO MAMMA MIA," she shared in an Instagram post. "I am still tearing up today when I think about last night. Opened my favorite show with my favorite people @silverleigh @billdamaschke I found out our 'original Trudy' would be at the show in the afternoon and cried all day up to and including the moment during bows where I got to acknowledge her."
"I am beyond grateful that Jane and Lily have shared this show with me and us and it's never going to feel normal. In the best way. I'm dealing with some major awe-infinitum," she added.
Worries about Strong's possible departure comes after a mass exit from Saturday Night Live. Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney and Pete Davidson were first to leave the show at the conclusion of season 47. An additional four comedians — full-time stars Chris Redd, Melissa Villaseñor and Alex Moffat and featured comedian Aristotle Athari — stepped away ahead of the season premiere.
SNL creator Micahels has called the current season a "transition" year, noting, "the change years are always difficult." Four new cast members joined SNL ahead of season 48.
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Saturday Night Live airs Saturday nights at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.