Shoehorn loves the various opportunities he encounters in his artistic life. With some of these endeavors, he provides a live soundtrack for variety shows on a selection of instruments.One of the most rewarding is the Art, Science, Danger! show he does with 2 old friends in Madcap Variety Company.

Madcap Variety Company:

We are professional entertainers based in Portland, Oregon, with extensive histories performing for audiences of all ages and backgrounds, with skills that transcend language and time zone.  Collectively, we have performed on 5 continents in almost every imaginable live venue, from community theaters and concert halls to class rooms, festival stages to libraries, juke-joints to street corners, World Expos to county fairs. Most of our work is for public events, but we are also available for private parties, conventions, schools, and corporate functions.


Art, Science, Danger!  is a 90-minute theater show with an intermission.  Load-in, set-up, lighting and live sound requirements are simple. We typically perform in a theater, but we do festival stages and school shows as well. We can also do workshops.

One day, over a decade ago, three friends decided to work together for the final show of a local festival. The resulting collaboration was so compelling and dynamic they decided to take it on the road.

Our Mission is to entertain and amaze

Madcap Variety Company consists of 3 seasoned entertainers combining their talents into a blockbuster variety show with Jazz & Americana music, cowboy rope tricks, expert juggling, scientific fact, and daredevil antics, served up with family-friendly hilarity and DIY ingenuity.  Known for his multiple finales and wry humor, Rhys Thomas has toured his Jugglemania and Science Circus all over the USA and abroad. David "Leapin' Louie" Lichtenstein is a master of old-school rope tricks and wild, foolhardy stunts. He is also a director of the international aid group Clowns Without Borders.  Tap dancing sax player MC Shoehorn creates music with his feet and dances with his horn, and he is also the "one-man pit orchestra"  utilizing the piano, harmonica and a variety of wind and percussion instruments to create a live sound track to the action on stage.
 Jugglers seem to naturally congregate to toss objects at each other, much like musicians at jam sessions. Rhys and David met as teens in the Eugene area and eventually settled in Portland. They went on to develop their routines into personally evolved manifestations of classic circus and vaudeville tricks with customized touches and jokes. Tap dancer/musician MC Shoehorn is as much of a variety act as a jazz musician, with his fast feet keeping a beat while he switches between instruments to add moods, colors, and textures to complement the action and comedy, making juggling sound better!

What We Do as individuals

These three guys each have impressive resumes, traveling the planet and entertaining audiences of all ages. All three men balance the demands of the audience and the road with their responsibilities as family men with wives and children, most of whom are in college now.  All three performers have logged extensive histories traveling as solo performers and are available for solo and duo engagements.

Rhys Thomas: His widely-toured “JuggleMania” show features interactive comedy which resonates at different levels for adults and kids, punctuating the high-level circus tricks which characterize his work . His “Science Circus” show adds Newtonian Physics to this mix of hilarity and dexterity. Clean comedy, amazing tricks, interactive shenanigans and an educational option make JuggleMania the "Something Different" you’re looking for, and is appropriate for all ages.

David Lichtenstein specializes in Western comedy shows featuring his cowboy  character, Leapin’ Louie. He is a master of physical comedy, trick roping, fancy whip cracking, juggling, unicycling; a virtuoso of new vaudeville and alternative circus.  He creates custom shows for companies, festivals, schools, and theaters and has performed these shows full time for over 20 years.  He is based in Portland, Oregon but travels the world frequently, shows in 29 countries so far.

MC Shoehorn, aka Michael Conley, is a performance artist who creates music with his feet and dances with his horn. Shoehorn combines body rhythms and sophisticated jazz forms and concepts into an entertaining spectacle. While specializing in sax and tap dance, he is also a vocalist, and a multi-instrumentalist, arranger and composer, utilizing a variety of wind and percussion instruments, classic and original songs, and an ear for music from around the world. He is a bandleader and has released 6 full-length CDs of music and a DVD.

Art, Science, Danger! These three words reflect the running themes of three sincere artists who risk it all every time they perform. Three men who have dedicated their lives to the mastery of seemingly useless skills in order to express themselves and amuse their fellow earthlings. Their core abilities have been expanded to encompass more and more material each year, but at the heart of it all is the soul of the artist, the mind of the scientist, and the danger of a guy throwing stuff up in the air.

The Art, Science, Danger! show transcends any expectations inherent to the variety genre, preserving and updating classic analog entertainment while relating sounds and skills from the storied past of"vaudeville" to the modern age with new techniques and contemporary references and improvisation.

Madcap Variety Company Offices

P.O.Box 11634
Portland, OR, 97211

tel. 503-282-1429

MC Shoehorn-dances with instruments

Michael Conley, aka MC Shoehorn, works as a solo performance artist and as a bandleader, guest soloist, and sideman.  Known primarily for his aptitude for tap dancing and playing saxophone simultaneously, he has also invented a system of electric tap dance he calls Tappercussion™. He plays a panoply of woodwind and percussion instruments and piano, sings, composes and arranges. A versatile stylist, he plays in jazz, Americana, world music ( Japanese, African & Latin), swing, roots rock, blues, and concert bands. He sings in English, Spanish and Japanese and has released 6 CDs and a DVD under his own name on the Kutsubera label.. He is also available for clinics, lectures, workshops and masterclasses.

Besides our 3-person extravaganza, we each work extensively as solo acts; MC Shoehorn's Dances with Instruments; Leapin' Louie's Wild West; and Rhys Thomas, Jugglemania and Science Circus. We also offer the (quite dynamic) duos, Jugglemania with Shoehorn, and Leapin' Louie with Shoehorn. MC also works with a combo billed as MC Shoehorn's Hatband.

Leapin' Louie with Shoehorn

Leapin' Louie and Shoehorn first became friends at the World Expo 88 in Brisbane, Australia. Later they met in Montreal, Canada, and other places on the long road, before Shoehorn settled in Portland, where their families became friends as well. Louie is one of the founders of international aid group Clowns Without Borders, and Shoehorn has led the house band for the Clowns Without Borders benefit shows in Portland nearly every year. They have performed together often at the Oregon Country Fair and at the Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland, as well as the Portland Rose Festival.


Jugglemania with Shoehorn

The Jugglemania with Shoehorn duo has performed in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Nebraska, working in community theaters and doing outreach shows at nearby schools. The fast-paced fun includes Mr. Shoehorn playing up to 15 instruments over the course of the show to complement the story-telling, stunts and gags of the masterful jugglemaniac Rhys Thomas.