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Artists Lounge Live, started by the husband-and-wife team of Michael and Angela Ingersoll, specializes in presenting tribute shows to various musical legends. (Michael Ingersoll was in the original tour of the Four Seasons-inspired bio-musical Jersey Boys, and Angela has played Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow.) Now they’ve brought in John-Mark McGaha, an Alabama-born musical performer and minister, with Signed, Sealed, Delivered: A Stevie Wonder Experience at Mercury Theater Chicago.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: A Stevie Wonder Experience Through 3/12: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 2:30 and 7:30 PM, Sun 2:30 PM, Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport, 773-360-7365, mercurytheaterchicago.com, $35-$75

McGaha, who also performs a tribute show to Nat King Cole, tells stories of his own life and family (he and his wife have five kids) intertwined with details from the astonishing career of Wonder, who charted his first number-one hit at 13. Written and directed by Angela Ingersoll, the personal anecodotes McGaha tells feel improvisational and conversational. The snippets of stories in praise of Wonder’s gifts and ability to keep transforming and innovating, while undeniably bordering on the hagiographic, also remind us that Wonder isn’t just a songwriting whiz and charismatic performer; he’s also a man who stood up for the rights of Black people and Black artists throughout his career. (This included fighting with Motown over his royalties and artistic control of his music—a reminder that it wasn’t just white-run record companies that took advantage of Black artists.)

Backed by a tight five-piece band and two backup singers (the wholly delightful duo of Cherice Coaches and Jessica Brooke Seals, whose quiet reactions to some of McGaha’s stories and jokes are as well-tuned as their vocal performances), McGaha is an engaging and spirited interpreter of Wonder’s canon. The program mostly focuses on the hits, including “My Cherie Amour” (which McGaha humorously notes was originally titled “Oh My Marcia”), “Isn’t She Lovely,” and the title song. But given that Wonder began cranking out hits 60 years ago, that makes sense. 

There’s also a nice symmetry between the different career path McGaha has taken in life and the superstardom of Wonder, with a quiet common emphasis on family and community service threaded through both their lives. But the show is ultimately about the music, and if you’re even a casual fan of Wonder (and who isn’t, really?), McGaha delivers.

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