The Kennedy Center yesterday unveiled its new 500-seat Terrace Theater, described as a "uniquely flexible... blend of recital hall and performance stage" by Kennedy Center chairman Roger L. Stevens.

The facility will open Jan. 28 with the Grand Kabuki of Japan, followed by four other performances featuring Japanese works or Western works influenced by Japanese themes. The government of Japan and several private groups within Japan donated $3 million to complete the once-abandoned theater in the northwest corner of the Center's top floor.

Booked in the theater after the week of Japanese programs are Adolph Green and Betty Comden's musical revue, Glory Van Scott and Louis Johnson's show about Sojourner Truth, two children's arts festivals, a week of chamber music, two weeks of Edward Albee directing his short plays in repertory, the American College Theater Festival, a ballet lecture series and a festival devoted to "Paris -- The Romantic Epoch."

The coming year will be considered a "shakedown" period for the theater's programming policies, according to Stevens. However, the Theater Chamber Players are set as a resident chamber music group, and Kennedy Center executive director Martin Feinstein suggested that eventually the theater would be the home for resident theater and opera companies.

The auditorium is decked out in mauve, rose and silver. Thomas Kendrick, Kennedy Center's director of operations, said that architect Philip Johnson chose the colors.

The proscenium stage is supplemented by a motorized orchestra pit. When the pit is raised, th stage is 35 feet deep and forms a modified thrust shape. When the pit is lowered, for use by as many as 35 musicians, the stage is 26 feet deep. An acoustic shell can be lowered onto te stage to create a more kintmate space fore recitals. The acoustics were designed by Cyril Harris, who recently reworked the sound qualities of Avery Fisher Hall in New York.

The facility also includes a lobby opening onto the terrace overlooking the Potomac River. The terrace is currently being waterproofed, however, and will not be open until work is completed later in the year. Backstage are offices, a storage space, a rehearsal room and dressing rooms. A projtion booth has been wired, but the theater lacks projection equipment.

Seating capacity can range from 477 to 513, and the auditorium is more sharply raked than any of the other Kennedy Center halls. There are aisle lights at the end of each row, designed to prevent stumbling; overhead lights to facilitate score reading, and wall lights beamed upward.

The theater initially was known as the Studio Theater, but the name "Terrace" was substituted to emphasize that the speace will not be used for workshop productions. "Terrace" also pinpoints the location of the theater, said Kendrick. Audiences will enter from the elevators at the north end of the Center and turn right twice in order to reach the lobby.

Located near the theater are the Center's Musical Theater Lab and the performing arts library, which is expected to open this spring.

No additional parking facilities have been added to accommodate patrons of the new theater, but Stevens said plans are underway to increase the number of parking spaces at the nearby Columbia Plaza building. Curtain time for most productions in the Terrace Theater will be 8:45, later than most of the other curtain times in the Center, in an effort to avoid congestion. Terrace Theater programs are "apt to be shorter," said Stevens. The theater also will be used for morning and afternoon performances.

Programming decisions will be made by Stevens and Feinstein. "It all depends on who wins which fight," said Stevens. Because the Center is "a national cultural center," he said, local groups will be given no extraordinary access to the theater. The "diversity of demand" for the theater's facilities will require a carefully balanced programming policy, he said.

Though no jazz or folk concerts have been included on th initial schedule, Feinstein said these forms of popular music would be included on future Terrace Theater schedules.

Stevens said a play by Japanese playwright Kobo Abe will appear in the Terrace Theater in May, though it hasn't been scheduled officially. Japanese Ambassador Fumihiko Togo was at yesterday's ceremony and predicted that the Terrace Theater "will further enrich the cultural life of this country in a unique way."

The Albee festival has been organized by Albee himself, who is touring with it. Albee is "recognized as our greatest living playwright," said Stevens.

Plans for a theater on the new hall's site were included in the original Kennedy Center deisgn, but work was stopped when funds ran out for the intricate revolving stage then planned for the space. The Japanese Bicentennial gift of $3 million, which was sparked by Burson-Marsteller chairman Harold Burson, according to Stevens, revived interest in the project. But debate over the design delayed completion, which was once predicted for a year ago.

Only when the decision to aim for both a recital hall and a theater was made did significant construction begin, in February 1978.

Only when the decision to aim for both a recital hall and a theater was made did significant construction begin, in February 1978.

The Terrace Theater is the sixth hall in the Kennedy Center, joining the Eisenhower Theater, the Opera House, the Concert Hall, the AFI's Warner theater and the Musical theater Lab. Stevens said the new theater is "the keystone" of a complex also including the library and Musical Theater Lab "that will enable the Center to greatly expand its role in education and public service... to encourage new talent, new works and new audiences, and offer access to performingarts groups from across the country that have been unable for economic reasons to use the Center's major stages in the past."