RIYADH: The Riyadh Season came to a conclusion on Thursday night with Balich Worldwide Shows’ one-night production of “Leila, the Land of Imagination.”
The hour-and-a-half long show featured an impressive number of technical, musical, and physical feats, wowing the Riyadh crowds.
488 performers, 293 crew members, and even two horses gave the performance of a lifetime at the King Fahd International Stadium.
“Your journey is about to begin, Leila. Close your eyes and dream,” said the narrator, and the show began. The show detailed a night of protagonist Leila’s dreams, played with great skill and passion by fresh Saudi face Noura Al-Abeed.
Leila, who represents a “new Saudi generation who live a changing reality,” spent a night traversing Saudi Arabia in a dream, taking viewers on a magical journey across the beautiful landscape of the country.
“No one can believe what I’m seeing. My land, stunning, elegant, magical,” Leila cried in a monologue, earning cheers and applause from the audience.
A scene representing the famous battle of Al Masmak Fort, with a projection of the late King AbdulAziz featured on the giant inflatable castle, garnered huge cheers from the audience, as a traditional war song played along with a Ardah, or war dance.
The show was also punctuated with incredible special effects, with firecrackers going off at intervals to represent thunder during the rain scene, or, an aerial dancer who twirled in the heart of a waterfall, and even a giant, illuminated moon, that trailed across the stage, even serving as a hot air balloon that carried Leila across the desert.
The costumes, props, and stage design were all created to reflect Saudi culture. Over the course of the show, the harsh desert transformed beautifully into a stunning oasis, with palm trees sprouting and lakes forming.
Hundreds of costumes were created for the performance, which ranged from representations of desert animals like oryx and camels, to traditional Saudi men and women’s garb depending on the scene.
The music was a mixture of traditional Saudi beats and more modern music, with each region in Saudi Arabia getting to showcase a traditional dance and traditional costume toward the end of the show.
The show had many on social media calling for an extension, saying that the performance was wasted on a single night.
“I wish more people could get the opportunity to see it, it was so beautiful,” tweeted one showgoer.
“I wanted to go so badly but I was busy tonight. Now that I’ve seen the posts on social media I wish I had gone. It looks stunning,” lamented another Twitter user.
The show ended with a simple, but strong message: anything is possible if you can just imagine it. As Leila’s final monologue says, “I never thought the Land of Imagination would be my own home country.”