Julia Neary, Theater artist and DePaul teacher, dead at 50

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There was something in the way she moved. But just as importantly, there was something in the way she could inspire others to move (and be moved) that made Julia Neary — the actress, dancer, choreographer, director, stage combat specialist, athlete and teacher — such a potent force on the Chicago theater scene.

An intensely creative spirit, Neary worked at such theaters as Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Victory Gardens, Next, Plasticene, Teatro Vista, Chicago Dramatists, Lifeline, Strawdog, About Face, Running with Scissors and Collaboraction, and received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Supporting Actress in Famous Door’s acclaimed 1999 production of  Joshua Sobol’s “Ghetto,” which she also choreographed. She spent 10 years as an adjunct professor at the Theatre School of DePaul University before joining the faculty full time in 2010 as an Assistant Professor of Acting and Movement.

Neary died early Saturday morning, just a few days after her 50th birthday, surrounded by her parents, Tom and Sally Neary, and her siblings Susan, Tom and Nancy. She had been receiving home hospice care at her family’s longtime vacation home on the Sister Lakes in Michigan, after waging a valiant battle against late stage liver and colon cancer for about a year.

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