Tonight’s ‘SVU’ features a ‘ripped from the headlines’ version of the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal, told, albeit, in the twisty fashion that viewers know and love from the drama.
Center stage in this installment is ADA Barba whose loyalties are tested when two men whom he admires become entangled in a sex scandal during an election campaign.
While Barba is respected by the members of the 16th precinct for his tenacity, he hasn’t been fully embraced by everyone and the detectives worry about his commitment to justice as the investigation reveals more and more dirty laundry.
Now, if you’re a little ‘Weinered-out’ (there’s a phrase that’s a little fun to write and but one that I never thought I would), don’t give up on this episode just yet.
It’s no surprise to anyone that’s a regular viewer of the show that ‘SVU” stacks up the talent for every episode, but this one seems especially chock full of gifted guest stars.
But before we get to the guest roles, let’s first look at ADA Barba himself, Raul Esparza. An excellent addition to the ensemble of 'SVU,' Esparza has four Tony nominations, recently won an Ovation Award for his lead role in the Broadway musical “Leap of Faith" and also currently appears as Dr. Frederick Chilton on the NBC series in “Hannibal.”
Joining him tonight in a guest starring role is Karen Olivo, a Tony winner for Best Featured Actress in a musical for the Broadway revival of “West Side Story." She also originated the role of Vanessa in “In the Heights.”
Appearing in his second ‘SVU’ episode this season, is Leslie Odom Jr. He was recently seen in the episode “American Tragedy” which featured the Paula Deen/Trayvon Martin mash-up. Last year he was a regular on the Broadway-inspired NBC drama “Smash” and recently starred with Esparza in “Leap of Faith” for which he won the prestigious Astaire Award for recognition of his outstanding achievement in dance.
Annaleigh Ashford, is also a Tony nominee, and currently has a role in the Tony winning musical “Kinky Boots.” She’s also won a Drama Desk Award and can also be seen as snarky prostitute Betty DiMello on HBO’s "Masters of Sex.”
Rounding out the guest cast are Vincent Laresca who's appeared in “24” and “Weeds” and Kirk Acevedo best known for his work on “Oz” and “Fringe.”
It’s clear that ‘SVU’ continues to mine the Broadway stage for guest stars, thankfully for the rest of the country, particularly those people who won’t ever make it to New York to see these outstanding performers under the lights.
It's a bonus for shows that shoot in New York - to be able to mine that talent pool - but while this option is open to all, not everyone seems to take advantage of it.
Not to diss any professionals, but it often appears as if West Coast casting directors neglect to explore the East Coast stages for talent.
I asked ‘SVU’ Executive Producer Warren Leight about this and he agreed, saying, “It’s interesting to me when I hear West Coast people say, ‘I don’t know if this actor can carry an act as a guest star’ and I respond with, ‘Well, they’ve been on stage eight times a week for a number of years so I’m fairly sure that they can handle a guest starring role.' And, all you have to do is watch these phenomenal stage actors on our show and you know that I’m really not wrong about this.”
Simply categorizing these individuals as ‘stage’ actors is incredibly inaccurate and now the whole country can see why as these actors bring their collective talent to this episode, and hopefully, many others in the future.
So tune in for tonight’s ‘Weinergate’ (another phrase I never thought I’d actually use, but am, reluctantly) and take in the 'SVU' spin on the actual events, all the while basking in glow of the performances bringing this story to life.
Tonight’s hashtag = #SVUSelfie
“Law & Order: SVU” airs Wednesday night at 9/8c on NBC.