Since the 1980s, analysis of the representation of women in Maoist theatre has argued that the heroines of the Cultural Revolution "model works" (yangbanxi) were "genderless revolutionaries" "erased" of anything feminine. This article challenges such a view through a case study of Song of the Dragon River in which the male hero of the 1964 spoken drama version was changed to a female in the 1972 yangbanxi adaptation. Evidence is presented that the characterization of the heroine in the latter work conforms closely not only with traditional beliefs in innate female characteristics but also with current Chinese beliefs in the characteristics of successful women in leadership.