Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is in hot pursuit of Broadway talent.
The long-running NBC crime series has been turning to theater actors to populate its scenes, as many of them have been out of work due to ongoing theater closures.
Eagle-eyed fans noted the presence of Broadway stars in the casting announcement for Thursday's upcoming episode, and SVU showrunner Warren Leight confirmed the show was seeking out theater stars to Deadline earlier this week.
To the rescue: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit showrunner Howard Leight confirmed last week that the long-running crime series is looking for out-of-work Broadway actors to fill its guest spots; (L-R) Peter Scanavino, Mariska Hargitay, and Kelli Giddish on SVU
In response to one tweet on Tuesday night noting that the cast list was filled with 'so much broadway,' Leight tweeted, 'We are trying to hire every Broadway actor we can while we and they wait for the curtains to rise again.'
In a follow-up tweet sent Wednesday, he clarified that 'by Broadway, we of course also mean off, and off-off, and off-off-off.'
Among the Broadway stars in the upcoming episode was stage breakout Eva Noblezada, 24, who earned Tony nominations for her Broadway debut in Miss Saigon and her follow-up as the lead character Eurydice in Hadestown.
The episode also features Alex Brightman, who earned Tony nominations for originating the stage version of the role played by Jack Black in School Of Rock, as well as playing the title character in the stage adaptation of Beetlejuice.
Going all out: In response to a tweet on Tuesday night noting that the cast list was filled with 'so much broadway,' Leight tweeted, 'We are trying to hire every Broadway actor we can while we and they wait for the curtains to rise again'
'We know how hard the community has been hit here,' Leight said in his interview. 'The goal is to get as many jobs too as many theater actors as we possibly can.'
The movie comes as many theater actors are in dire straights, with theaters closed throughout the US due to the dangers of the novel coronavirus.
Actors have a much higher unemployment rate amid the pandemic than the general population, and it's likely higher for stage actors, as some film and television stars have been able to continue working on sets with coronavirus safety procedures.
The acting work can also be beneficial for stage actors trying to keep their union health insurance, as they're required to work a minimum number of days in order to remain eligible for the plans.
© Provided by Daily Mail Helping out: 'We know how hard the community has been hit here,' Leight said in his interview with Deadline. 'The goal is to get as many jobs to as many theater actors as we possibly can'
The New York City-based series, which has starred Mariska Hargitay for more than 20 years, is well-positioned to use Broadway talent, as most of the actors already live in the city and are easier to get than an LA-based actor who needs to be flown out.
'In the past, we’ve done what you could call Hollywood stunt casting,' Leight explained. 'But a lot of those players aren’t going to be willing to get on a plane and quarantine right now. We realized early on that we’ll have to cast locally much more.'
During normal performance times, it's difficult for Broadway actors to fit in film or television roles around their performance schedules, but the shutdown has left them with plenty of time for lengthier guest appearances.
Leight also described Broadway actors as 'money players' who 'hit their marks and can do it over and over' due to their training and professionalism, which is especially useful when crews want to keep time on set to a minimum due to fears of spreading the coronavirus.
Back at it: Even before the pandemic, Broadway stars regularly appeared. Four-time Tony nominee Raúl Esparza even played the main cast role for five seasons
'Our directors need to know that [guest actors] can do two scenes with Olivia and not be nervous,' Leight added, referring to Hargitay's character, Captain Olivia Benson.
Even before the pandemic, actors known for their Broadway work were a regular fixture on SVU.
Four-time Tony nominee Raúl Esparza is probably best known for his lead role in the acclaimed 2006 revival of Stephen Sondheim's musical Company, but he became a fixture on the Law & Order spin-off during his recurring run in season 14, which led to a main cast role in seasons 15 through 19.
Esparza will be making a short return to the series with his guest role on Thursday's episode, titled Sightless In A Savage Land.
Leight added that stage actors were 'money makers' because of their ability to hit marks and do repeated takes; Hagitay and Kelli Giddish (L) seen filming SVU in 2018
Broadway has remained dark since March 12, 2020, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo orders theaters closed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Although multiple tentative reopening days have been set, they have been pushed back each time as the virus continues to surge.
The Actors' Equity Association, the national union representing professional stage actors and stage managers, has called on Congress to provide assistance to out-of-work theater professionals.
'This is a deeply painful time for everyone who depends on the arts for their livelihood,' Executive Director Mary McColl said in a statement from October, when the Broadway shutdown was extended to May 2021.
'Too many in the industry need help now as we face another six months without work. The ongoing lack of work in the arts means we face a critical need for a federal COBRA health insurance subsidies, renewed federal unemployment benefits, and arts funding. Washington must act.'