Behind the Designs is a blog series that explains the inspiration and choices made for designs from Something Good Merchandise.
The idea behind the designs in the Role Call Collection is simple: a list of roles a performer has portrayed. It's essentially having an actor's resume on a shirt, as Broadway concert producer Abby DePhillips put it when she described the one we gifted her. They were among the first designs we came up with for this brand, and they were the ones we used to launch our site.
In this blog post, we go over what inspired us to create these designs and how we go about developing each Role Call design.
Last October, we went to ACE Comic Con Midwest to see actor Taron Egerton, who is best known for his roles as Elton John in Rocketman and Eggsy Unwin in the Kingsmen movie series. Taron is Amanda's favorite actor, and she got a photo op as a birthday gift. When it came to choosing what to wear for it, she decided it would be cool to have a shirt that had all of Taron's roles on it, especially because it would be a great way to show her support for him. She didn't end up getting the shirt for the event, but it was a great idea for us to use for the Broadway merchandise brand we had been planning.
From there, we brainstormed some Broadway performers we would like to see a Role Call T-shirt for.
The Collection Name
The "Role Call Collection" name is a play on the "roll call" concept.
In general terms, "roll call" is listing names to take attendance. We changed it to the "role call," which it's commonly though erroneously referred to as, to highlight that the names on these designs are the roles that would be present on the respective performers' resumes.
One of the questions we get the most regarding our Role Call Collection is "Why is (insert role here) not on (insert performer's name here)'s shirt?" For some designs, we have all of the performer's roles on there, because there aren't too many roles to include, making it easy to fit them all on a T-shirt. For other performers, however, there are so many roles that it's difficult to list them all on a shirt.
Some performers have a plethora of Broadway credits, and some have made a name for themselves off the stage, too, lengthening their list of roles. In such a case, we choose the performer's most well-known, iconic roles, because getting all the roles to fit just isn't always possible. We want to ensure the design focuses on the roles that have most significantly shaped the performer's career.
Take Aaron Tveit for example. He has been on the stage, the small screen, and the big screen, so he has a long list of credits. For the Aaron Role Call T-shirt, we focused on the Broadway, TV, and movie roles he is best known for. That, unfortunately, meant the exclusion of Fiyero in Wicked and Mike Warren in Homeland, but we included Broadway roles he originated and Gossip Girl's Tripp van der Bilt, where he got his big TV break.
Another example would be Laura Osnes. We knew her list of Broadway roles might be too lengthy to all include in a design, so we opted for her Broadway debut role of Sandy in Grease and the three roles listed in her Instagram bio.
Sometimes, the roles may all fit but look bad as an overall design. We also never want to include so many roles that, unless we remove ones, it limits us from ever updating the design and adding future roles.
So, when we pick roles, we ask ourselves "Which roles do people typically associate with them?" We also consider whether a role was their first major television or film role, something that helped expand their career as an actor. From there, we list them in chronological order to provide a timeline of sorts.
In general, we only design Role Call T-shirts for performers with at least three major roles on their resumes. Doing a design with just two roles on it doesn't seem worth it, and it isn't really fun. A list doesn't really seem like a list either until there are at least three items included. So, if a performer doesn't have three or more major roles, we won't do a Role Call T-shirt for them.
The first release of our Role Call Collection consisted of shirts for some of our favorite performers. For example, while Taron Egerton isn't a Broadway performer, he was the performer who gave us the idea for Role Call T-shirts and is Amanda's favorite actor, so we had to include him. Meanwhile, Ashley's Broadway favorite is Corey Cott, so she wanted to include him in the initial release.
The second release consisted almost entirely of customer/social media follower suggestions. When we first released the Role Call Collection, we had yet to establish any kind of following, so the performers we had shirts for weren't based on any sort of demand but rather an inclination for who Broadway fans like--in addition to our own favoritism. Because we can only succeed if we provide what customers like, this input is something we'll continue to refer to when expanding this collection.
If you would like to see a Role Call T-shirt for a performer we don't currently have one for, please feel free to comment or send us a message on social media. We ask that you do look through our current offerings, as we have received multiple requests for Role Call T-shirts we have already created. But we are always open to suggestions! If the demand is high enough, we'll likely add your suggestion.
If you see a Role Call T-shirt on our site that you are interested in, please let us know! We will eventually be retiring designs that aren't as popular.