Ariana DeBose, Elmo and Rocco bring the fire to ‘Saturday Night Live’

New York City was even more prominent than usual on this weekend’s episode of “Saturday Night Live,” hosted by “West Side Story” and Broadway star Ariana DeBose.

After a brief hiatus and a holiday episode largely scuttled due to the Omicron surge, the sketch comedy show returned Saturday with DeBose and musical guest Bleachers, an indie pop band fronted by producer and New Yorker Jack Antonoff. Just as New Yorky: cast member Chris Redd debuted as the city’s “swaggering” new mayor, Eric Adams.

DeBose’s “SNL” debut comes a month after the theatrical release of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “West Side Story,” a “Romeo and Juliet” tale set in 1950s New York City, which drew rave reviews from film critics.

Last week, DeBose won a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Anita — an achievement she noted, notably, at the top of her “SNL” monologue. (For the most part, actors and studios have downplayed their affiliation with the Globes since the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which distributes them, came under fire last year for a lack of diversity and unethical practices.)

“Not many people know this, but ‘West Side Story’ is actually based on another classic tale of star-crossed lovers: ‘90 Day Fiancé,’” DeBose joked during her monologue.

“But it is great to be here representing not only the Latino community as an Afro-Latina, but also the Broadway community. … We are a community that perseveres. I believe Broadway changes lives. I mean, hey, it changed mine. Broadway has this magical ability to bring people together, and I think we can all use a little Broadway right now.”

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DeBose’s professional stage presence and peppy optimism was a welcome departure from the previous “SNL” installment, which featured a brief pandemic PSA from Tom Hanks, as well as a mix of old and pre-recorded sketches, as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 surged across New York.

Here’s a sampling of highlights from Saturday’s episode, some of which contain profanity.