ANDERSON — After student actors at Anderson University perform the final show of any production, they take apart the set and store the props.
In February, the cast was striking the set for the opera "The Magic Flute" when they diverted the attention of director and professor Laurel Goetzinger and led her to another room.
There, AU alums and colleagues had gathered for a farewell to Goetzinger, who has been a music and theater professor as well as director of the Boze Lyric Theatre at the university since 1999.
"I was completely surprised by the surprise party following the final performance of 'The Magic Flute," she said. "It truly had never occurred to me that anyone would do such a thing. That said, I was profoundly touched and grateful for the many alumni and current students who worked together to create a thoughtful, well-put-together and multi-faceted celebration of our years together."
The party was a fitting finale to Goetzinger's career at AU, said 2012 alum Frank Ebels, who helped plan the surprise.
"She changed the concept of acting for me," said Ebels, who had performed in high school productions before finding new direction at AU.
"She taught me that I had a purpose on stage whether I'm speaking or not and whether I'm in light or not. ... She told me I should always be exploring and discovering a role because that's what was best for me as an actor and what was best for the audience."
Another alum, Meghan Sands, agreed: "I find her teachings imperative. I often joke with her that I need to get myself a W.W.L.D.? (What Would Laurel Do?) bracelet so I can be reminded to act with integrity."
Sands, who has performed throughout the area, has recently been the mezzo-soprano resident artist with the Indianapolis Opera.