News that a mezzanine seat to a Broadway show now costs $24 dismays me.

However, I'm sure that if we took Ken Mathews' complaint to the producer of "A Chorus Line" we'd be told, "listen, if I had to pay for a live pit orchestra in addition to the enormous salaries I pay the principals and chorus, the outrageous rental for the theater, the wages of the stagehands and other employees, the insurance, the advertising the royalties the costumes, the taxes and a doxen hidden costs, I'd have to raise the price of tickets from $24 to $30. Do you know how much a stagehand makes these days?"

No, I don't know. Nor do I know or care about the exact salaries paid to Mstislav Rostropovich or Joe Theismann or Ron Guidry or Elvin Hayes or Johan Cruyff. All I know is that there is a limit to how much I can afford to pay for entertainment and thatwhen the cost of a ticket gets too high I must either curtail or completely end my patronage.

I thought that by this time competition would begin to curb the rush to give multimillion-dollar contracts to commonplace performers, but I was wrong. The spiral continues upward, and increasing numbers of us are turning to free TV as an alternative, despite TV's obvious drawbacks. The average wage-earner has little choice.

This is an era in which a pop singer or an actor can make a wage that is higher than the combined salaries of thepresidents of General Motors, AT&T and the United States.