09/15/1980 at 01:00 AM EDT
Rhonda Farer, 28, was slicing salami at a New York deli a year ago and on the verge of returning to school to become a psychotherapist when she decided to give showbiz one last shot. She auditioned to become Lucie Arnaz' standby in the Neil Simon-Marvin Hamlisch musical They're Playing Our Song—and won. Then, just like in those 1930s musicals, the star fell ill and Rhonda went on—once when she herself had a 102° fever. But when Arnaz left the show, the producers didn't think the name Farer on the marquee would sell tickets (orchestra is now as high as $28.50). Stockard Channing got the role for three months. Finally, on Channing's departure last June, Farer stepped up to the lead opposite Tony (Annie Hall) Roberts. The daughter of a Woodbridge, N.J. construction man and a nurse, Rhonda graduated from New Jersey's Rider College in 1973, toured with Grease and Jesus Christ Superstar, and even sang backup in Telly Savalas' cabaret act. When her career stalled in 1977, she worked at the deli to pay for classes with drama coach Stella Adler. Rhonda, who lives alone and dreams of Hollywood, hears rumors of a movie adaptation with the Arnaz-Channing-Farer part going to Diane Keaton. "But here I am in my dressing room with the lights around the mirror and my name on the marquee," she exults. "What could be bad?"
Mark Abrams, 19, was not surprised when he became the youngest elected official in California—but possibly some of his constituency was. When he declared his candidacy for the Los Alamitos Unified School District Board of Education in 1979, Abrams simply omitted his age (then 17) from his flyers while truthfully pointing out that he had "lived in the district for more than 16 years." Abrams set up headquarters in his parents' Seal Beach house, hired a professional campaign manager and ultimately raised a war chest of $8,000. As high school senior buddies canvassed in support of their ambitious onetime class president, Abrams explained to voters that, being "a consumer of education" himself, he had "firsthand knowledge of what it is like in the district." With five seats open, he finished fourth among a dozen candidates. Living at home with his parents—both psychotherapists—Abrams has no trouble juggling sophomore classes at the University of Southern California, directing the reelection campaign of a state assemblyman and devoting 25 hours a week to the school board. "I don't get a lot of sleep," he admits, "but basically I'm enjoying doing the very best job I can. After all," he grins, "I can't start thinking about the Presidency for another 16 years."