How to Make the Most of April Showers in Rhode Island
A dull day doesn’t have to be depressing when there are plenty of fun activities to do inside. Whether you want to test your puzzle-solving skills, reach new heights, or tickle your funny bone, these adventurous outings just might have you wishing for cloudier afternoons.
For lovers of puzzles
Escape Rhode Island
One of the best activities in the state on a rainy day is to escape indoors. Escape Rhode Island in Providence opened in 2015, just before the craze spread nationwide. When the team first opened the facility, there were about 50 sites across the country. Now there are over 2,000 escape rooms to explore and solve.
ERhode Island scape is open year-round, with games changing approximately every year. the four indoor games include the Mausoleum, the Speakeasy, Space Andromeda Station and the Bunker. There is also an immersive outdoor game called the Zachariah Conundrum, with a second outdoor game – the Eldritch Expedition – coming this spring.
The team has fun imagining ideas for rooms and games. The time it takes to design and build a room depends on the theme and the number of custom electronic effects used, explains Christopher Mejias, general manager of Escape Rhode Island. “With the actual installation, designing a room could take several months,” he says.
An IQ of 200 is not required to master the puzzles. Each chamber has its own success rate. The Speakeasy and the Andromeda space station hover around the 30-35% escape rate; in other words, “seven out of ten teams aren’t doing well,” Mejias said. Mausoleum and Bunker have success rates of 25% and 17% respectively.
“Most visitors are driven by a challenge, so the games are designed to be challenging – and realistic – hence the relatively low escape rates,” says Mejias. “Teams have to be able to achieve the goal, so it’s about finding that balance between the two.” Regardless of the outcome, teams rated the experience as 100% fun.
Once the April showers stop for a day or two, the Zachariah Conundrum takes players out of headquarters and into the city. The Escape Rhode Island team came up with the outdoor theme during the pandemic thinking about ways visitors could safely enjoy the escape room experience.
“Teams come to us and collect a backpack, using the elements of that backpack and the city of Providence as part of the game,” Mejias explains. “They interact with the objects we give them in certain places, solve puzzles and unfold the story along the way.”
Grab a friend or gather four to ten players and create a team before entering the space that challenges your brain and encourages you to explore, adapt, collaborate, be smart and think creatively before the sixty minute mark.
You can rent an escape room for two for $79, with additional tickets costing an additional $29 per person. Escape Rhode Island hosts games Tuesday through Sunday; check website for time slots. 385 Main Street South, Floor 2, Providence, 326-2222, escaperhodeisland.com
Central Rock Gymnasium
From three-year-olds to seventy-year-olds, Central Rock Gym in Warwick is no stranger to seeing brave people achieve tough climbing goals.
Margo Rego, assistant manager of Central Rock Gym, is amazed by the facility’s community. Guests quickly bond with each other during their climbing sessions. “You can become best friends with people who are thirty years older or younger than you simply because everyone is like-minded,” Rego says. The activity is a full body workout for every climber, helping to build muscle, increase cardio and improve coordination.
Beginners can start their climbing career with self-belays, where the rope is already at the top of the wall and gently lowers you to the ground once you let go of the climbing holds. They are ideal for solo ascents or endurance training. After understanding this, bouldering and rope climbing with a partner are other fascinating routes for rock climbing.
JThe gym’s bouldering walls are fifteen feet high with thick flooring to cushion your fall, as no ropes or harnesses are used. This type of climbing encourages you to strategize for the best sequence of moves while testing your strength. Roping with a partner, or belaying, requires a trusted climber to hold the ropes (and cheer you on your way). The partner must be ready to catch you and lower you if you fall or after reaching the top.
The facility has approximately 100 rope stations, a thirty-six foot lead wall, and 300 feet of bouldering space. It also contains a children’s area with easy climbs and funky ladders, a yoga room and a fitness room. Weekdays after the tiring nine to five and rainy weekends are the busiest times in the gym, full of individuals of all ages with one thing in common goal: reach the top.
During my visit, I saw a group of young men determined totempting bouldering techniques. I thought they were seasoned climbers, but they only entered the climbing scene ten months ago. There was also a little boy balancing on top of another rock wall, whose proud mum supported from afar, giving advice only when needed.
It’s never too early or too late to start your climbing journey, whether your goal is to have fun or get a good sweat.
Central Rock Gym offers the rental of shoes, harnesses and belay devices to facilitate your climbing journey. The gym also offers children’s programs, fitness and yoga classes, including HIIT, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, and Core Conditioning. There are rock climbing lessons that demonstrate proper movement, footwork, how to prevent injury and more. The hours are Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 275 West Natick Rd., Warwick, 889-5452, centralrockgym.com/warwick
fire station theater
Leave the improv skits to an award-winning comedy troupe. Firehouse Theater in Newport is home to the Bit Players, an abbreviated improv group that performs tickle games inspired by the comedy TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
The intimate BYOB installation wasn’t always the comedy hub it is today. Owners Jack and Donna Maytum bought the former fire station in the early 2000s and turned it into a favorite venue for plays, opening the door to comedy in 2007. Artistic director Frank Fusaro helped the duo expand the property and make comedy their focus, drawing more people to the seventy-five-seat theater.
Whether it’s a regular show or the funnies for the whole family that take place during the school holidays, the members of the public are in control: they are the ones who determine the outcome and the actions of the players because nothing is prepared in advance. It’s real improvisation. “Every show is different every time. He is driven out of the public himself,” says Karl Magner, COO and Bit Player. “We ask for suggestions, and then we base all of our scenes, music and games on what the audience gives us.”
When not in front of an audience, Bit Players rehearse, relearn and exercise their brains. “When we play, it’s unique for us; our games are invented here in rehearsal,” explains Devon Mello, who has been a Bit Player since the troupe’s inception. “Rehearsals hone those skills. We ask ourselves, ‘What are we good at and how can we highlight that specifically?’ »
Celebrate something or someone special? Let the Bit Players know and you could be the center of attention for a brief moment during the show. “We have a lot of bachelorette parties that like to evoke the bride-to-be and we sing them a little serenade,” says Magner. “We get to know them and their party and then create music on the spot from the information they give us.”
It can also be a great date idea. “Maybe not the first date,” Magner says. “They get clumsy.”
Vlad Tenenbaum, a sixty-year-old professional mime, was part of the fun-loving troupe from the start, with Mello. What prompted him to join the group? “It was my midlife crisis,” he says.
Present in the world of comedy for several years, the theatrical form comes naturally to him. “Nothing is prepared, you don’t know what [the audience] going to say or what your partner is going to do, but you accept everything and just go with it,” says Tenenbaum. “If you play for yourself, you fail. If you’re playing for your partner, it’s about giving your partner the opportunity to shine. If you’re trying to be funny, you just look desperate.
“Sometimes it’s reading the play and see how the public reacts,” says Magazinener,” but it’s also about being with your seat partner and having that connection where you can have a scene flowing and make the audience say, ‘Whoa!’ It’s good to impress the audience sometimes instead of just making them laugh.
In case you think you have what it takes to be part of the group, Bit Players hold open auditions once every two years and post the information on their Facebook and Instagram pages. Tickets are $18, with shows every Friday at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 7 and 9 p.m., and an occasional jazz night hosted by one of Bit Players’ musicians on Sundays at 5 p.m. 4 Equality Park Place, Newport, 849-3473, firehousetheater.org