It won’t spoil much to reveal that the title character in the Tony-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen begins each show with a cast on his left arm. And now PEOPLE has an exclusive look into how that costume piece comes together and apart each night.
In a new time lapse video from the show, actor Taylor Trensch — who currently plays Evan in the Broadway production — shows the full process.
The orthopedic cast is made from scratch for each performance, an assistant wrapping the actor’s arm in a cloth sling and fiberglass wrapping. Once wet, it dries hard — meaning the cast must then be sawed off with the aid of bandage scissors, a ruler, and an electronic cast saw.
Surprisingly, the process is incredibly speedy, only taking about 5 minutes from start to finish.
As of Oct. 11, a grand total of 944 casts have been made so far: 52 from the show’s DC run; 76 at its Off-Broadway run; 796 at its Broadway run; and 20 from its National Tour.
RELATED: The Cast of Dear Evan Hansen Open Up About the Musical’s Success
And the discarded casts don’t just get thrown aside. The casts are auctioned off after select shows in the fall and spring for Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS — a nonprofit organization that helps men, women and children across the country receive lifesaving medications, health care, nutritious meals, counseling and emergency financial assistance.
To date, the casts have raised more than $325,000 for charity alone. The highest paid one went for $35,000.
One auction gained special attention, when video surfaced of Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin going into a bidding war over it in the audience. They ended up each buying one for $4,000.
Dear Evan Hansen is currently playing at New York City’s Music Box Theatre.
Written by the Tony-winning composing team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul with a book from Steven Levenson, the musical tells the story of an anxiety-plagued high school loner named Evan who is paralyzed by the hyper-connectivity of social media and forced to watch the world from the outside looking in. Trying to improve his self-image, Evan writes himself a letter that is mistaken for a classmate’s suicide note and rides that error to popularity.
Popularity is something Dear Evan Hansen itself is familiar with.
Since opening in December 2016, Dear Evan Hansen has become a sold-out out smash, winning six Tonys. Its original cast recording also picked up a Grammy for best musical theater album. A deluxe version of the album is also coming this fall featuring never-before heard cut songs and new covers.
Meanwhile, producers launched a multi-city U.S. tour launched this month. International productions are slated for 2019 — one coming this March in Toronto and the other this fall in London’s West End.