"Love the theater - hate the seats" was the gist of a fund-raising campaign this past year in an effort to replace Salt Lake Acting Company's old hand-me-down seats with plush, comfortable new ones. And it worked.By the time "Steel Magnolias" opens SLAC's 1988-89 season on Wednesday, the 153 new seats will be installed and ready, according to Victoria M. Panella, managing director.

SLAC's old seats were donated to the theater several years ago by Snow College, which was re-seating its auditorium at the time. Now, the venerable old chairs are moving again. A couple of rows of the old seats have been installed in SLAC's rehearsal room, where the company has long-range plans for implementing an intimate, 35-seat experimental studio theater.

The rest of the old seats were donated to New Shakespeare Players, which is in the process of setting up temporary space in Walker Hall on the Westminster College campus. (If you miss the old SLAC seats, then you can catch NSP's season opener this week, too - "Bent.")

Panella said the box office is having minor problems with the new seats. The old seats were just numbered randomly 1 through 153. The new seating allows SLAC to number its chairs in a more logical manner - rows A through J, with odd numbers on one side of the theater and even numbers on the other. While this system - similar to that used by the Capitol, Kingsbury Hall and other larger theaters - will simplify things for newcomers and new ushers, SLAC's longtime subscription ticket-holders are having to refer to the new seating charts to locate their favorite areas.

But they'll get comfortable seats, instead of lumpy, uneven springs, in the bargain.

Jacque Conkling, SLAC's development director, was in charge of the fund-raising campaign to acquire the new seats.